(Plot summary from Amazon)
In this warm, funny, thoroughly candid novel, acclaimed author Cathy Lamb introduces an unforgettable heroine who’s half the woman she used to be, and about to find herself for the first time…Two years and 170 pounds ago, Stevie Barrett was wheeled into an operating room for surgery that most likely saved her life. Since that day, a new Stevie has emerged, one who walks without wheezing, plants a garden for self-therapy, and builds and paints fantastical wooden chairs. At thirty-five, Stevie is the one thing she never thought she’d be: thin. But for everything that’s changed, some things remain the same. Stevie’s shyness refuses to melt away. She still can’t look her gorgeous neighbor in the eye. The Portland law office where she works remains utterly dysfunctional, as does her family – the aunt, uncle, and cousins who took her in when she was a child. To top it off, her once supportive best friend clearly resents her weight loss. By far the biggest challenge in Stevie’s new life lies in figuring out how to define her new self. Collaborating with her cousins to plan her aunt and uncle’s problematic fortieth anniversary party, Stevie starts to find some surprising answers – about who she is, who she wants to be, and how the old Stevie evolved in the first place. And with each revelation, she realizes the most important part of her transformation may not be what she’s lost, but the courage and confidence she’s gathering, day by day.
Ok – here we are. Over two and half years after reading and falling desperately in love with Henry’s Sisters, I felt it was time. Time, finally, to read another book by Cathy Lamb. I was beyond hesitant because I knew nothing, absolutely nothing, would ever compare to my love of Henry’s Sisters. And? It didn’t. But I didn’t find that surprising. I really don’t think anything ever will. But this book? Such A Pretty Face? A very good book in its own right.
I don’t really want to talk about the story all that much. The story is very well done and keeps you turning the pages. And the biggest lesson learned is that losing weight is not a problem solver. The problems come with you. Once you stop blaming your weight for your problems, you can actually start to solve them. That was the lesson I took from it and that can happen at any weight. Anyone will identify with this book, though. I’ve noticed now with two books that Lamb is very good at finding pieces in her characters that virtually anyone will relate to. I want to talk a little bit about the characters. I found them enthralling.
Stevie Barrett – She is the main character, obviously. She has lines that were just wonderful and as the book is told in her voice, there are many of them. The one that identifies her the most where she is at the beginning of the book is this,
If there is a more gorgeous man on the planet, I have not seen him. Jake’s almost as tall as my grandpa and built in the same oxen form. He has blondish hair; is probably a little older than forty; and has huge, kind, green, mushy, yummy eyes and a jaw that could break a board in half. He is not pretty. In fact, I think he’s spent a lot of time out in the sun, because he has that tanned, weathered cragginess. He has a smile that reaches into my heart, wraps itself around me and makes me hope. I avoid him at all costs.
That’s who she is. When she looks in the mirror now, she doesn’t see the ravishing woman she’s become. She still feels like her 320lb self. And worse, when she looks in the mirror he sees her mother.
Jake Stockton – Oh he’s dreamy. Completely. Just dreamy. But real. And funny. Moving on.
Herbert (Not Uncle Herbert, Stevie refuses to call him Uncle)- You will hate this man. You will. Things he says. Things he does. You will hate him. And you will love to hate him.
Aunt Janet – Herbert’s wife. Stevie’s mother’s sister. She is meek and timid. But there’s a fire in that belly of hers. Just you wait. She’s no joke. She will delight you.
Polly & Lance – Grown children of Herbert and Janet. They are completely messed up. So is Stevie, but Stevie came to live with them already messed up. And then living with Herbert? Irrevocably screwed up.
Helen (Momma) – Stevie’s mother. Beautiful. Voice of an angel. Amazingly talented. Amazingly haunted. Paranoid schizophrenic. It’s not good. Not good at all and is what starts Stevie in her downward spiral. Tragedy of epic proportions happened one night. Stevie started eating the next day.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Zena. If you read the book for nothing else… read it for Zena. She is uproariously funny and so completely improper. She is a delightful character and you will love her instantly.
This was really a delightful book. I would highly recommend it.