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Pretty
Cover of Pretty
Pretty
Borrow
"Coming-of-age never looked so beautiful." - Kirkus (Starred Review)
"[A] powerful story of growth and change, brimming with honesty and hope." - Publishers Weekly
"Students who might not yet be ready for Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give will find an equally compelling narrator and story in Pretty." - VOYA Reviews

Sophie's perspective on what being pretty really means changes drastically in the second adjective-busting novel by the author of Husky, Justin Sayre.
Sayre details the private and public life of a thirteen-year-old burdened with far more than the middle-school adjective of Pretty. Though she appears confident, stylish, and easygoing at school, Sophie lives a nightmare at home. When her mother's alcohol addiction spirals out of control, Sophie's Auntie Amara steps in to help. She teaches Sophie new lessons about her family and heritage, while also challenging her to rethink how she feels about friends, boys, and even her sense of place in the Brooklyn neighborhood where she lives. Sayre, a master storyteller in the coming-of-age genre, asks readers to confront superficial assumptions about gender and beauty, and breathes new life into the canon of middle-grade realistic fiction.
"Coming-of-age never looked so beautiful." - Kirkus (Starred Review)
"[A] powerful story of growth and change, brimming with honesty and hope." - Publishers Weekly
"Students who might not yet be ready for Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give will find an equally compelling narrator and story in Pretty." - VOYA Reviews

Sophie's perspective on what being pretty really means changes drastically in the second adjective-busting novel by the author of Husky, Justin Sayre.
Sayre details the private and public life of a thirteen-year-old burdened with far more than the middle-school adjective of Pretty. Though she appears confident, stylish, and easygoing at school, Sophie lives a nightmare at home. When her mother's alcohol addiction spirals out of control, Sophie's Auntie Amara steps in to help. She teaches Sophie new lessons about her family and heritage, while also challenging her to rethink how she feels about friends, boys, and even her sense of place in the Brooklyn neighborhood where she lives. Sayre, a master storyteller in the coming-of-age genre, asks readers to confront superficial assumptions about gender and beauty, and breathes new life into the canon of middle-grade realistic fiction.
Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    4.4
  • Lexile:
    710
  • Interest Level:
    MG
  • Text Difficulty:
    3

Recommended for you

Excerpts-
  • From the book Chapter 1

    The water's on. That means she's in the bathroom.
    At night, this is the game we play. I win when I hear her turn the water off, then take the five steps to her door, then the three to her bed. She wins if she doesn't.
    Off, then five, then three.
    Off, then five, then three.
    But she's still in there. She's knocked some lotion bottles off the back of the toilet and cursed. I yell in to her, "Janet, do you need help?"
    "No! Go to bed," she yells back and keeps talking to herself, probably about me, but I don't care. I'm just waiting for the steps.
    Off, then five, then three.
    I used to think that this was crazy, having to wait like this for your mother to go to bed. But Janet isn't like other mothers. So this is the game we play, every night, waiting to see who gets to breathe first. I'm not trying to say I don't breathe during the day—I would, like, die—but breathing at the end of the night, when Janet has turned off the water and taken the five steps and then the three, and I've heard the squish sound of her mattress, is something very different.
    If I win, everything stops. I can stop my mind from racing through all the day's stuff that's happened with school and friends and her stuff and everything else that scrolls down in a long list in my head, every day. But only if I win.
    Only after the water's off.
    Off, then five, then three.
    I keep repeating it over and over, hoping that almost by magic, it will get her to do it. And then she turns the water off. And the light. Janet closes the door and takes the five steps to her door. She waits a second, then turns the knob and one . . . two . . . three . . . mattress drop. She's gone. She's out. I've won.
    And I breathe. The lists of my day float by again.
    First, the morning getting ready alone and sneaking out without waking her but still checking that she's in bed and that the bed is dry.
    Then school and the walk with Ducks and everything he has to say. It's always a lot. And school and tests and classes and homework and Allegra and boys, which seem like a lot of trouble over not a lot of anything else.
    The walk home, with the slow steps I don't even count until I open the door and find out what's waiting for me behind it. Nothing will matter much until that.
    The minute I walk in the door, everything revolves around Janet, whether she realizes it or not. Even if I'm doing homework or watching TV or texting with Allegra or Ellen or whoever. I'm never not watching her. I'm counting. Counting how many drinks she's had. Counting how many times she yells at the TV or trips on the door ledge. Counting all the time until her steps to bed and my one long breath. Counting to five, then to three.
    For the longest time, I didn't even know she drank. I thought that she was just like everyone else's mom. Everyone else's mom needed help up the stairs sometimes or slept on the bathroom floor because she couldn't make it to bed. I was sure everyone else's mom turned up the music at three in the morning and danced, and wanted you to dance, too, so pulled you out of bed even though there was school in the morning; everyone else's mom could be great like that. And everyone else's mom could get sad about something and cry and pull you close to her, asking why her husband left five years ago, then push you away, cursing at him and asking how she's ever supposed to meet someone now that she's forty-five, and thank God you don't know what any of this means, since you're only thirteen.
    But that's not everyone else's mom. That's just...
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 22, 2017
    Sayre’s engrossing second novel takes place in the same Brooklyn neighborhood as his debut, with Davis, Husky’s protagonist, playing a supporting role, along with their eclectic friends. Sophie, an African-American eighth grader, doesn’t mind being called pretty. “I guess I know I’m cute,” she reflects. “Especially when the look is right and the hair is on point.” She takes pains, however, to hide the ugly realities of her home life: the accumulated liquor bottles she recycles and her mother’s terrifying drunken rages. After one particularly awful night, her mother leaves for a monthlong work trip in Paris, and Sophie’s Auntie Amara moves in. Having an adult around who pays attention initially baffles Sophie, but she begins to let down her guard. As she spends more and more with Auntie Amara, including visits to her aunt’s hair salon and Harlem church, Sophie gains greater self-awareness and the courage to face the difficult choices that await upon her mother’s return. It’s a powerful story of growth and change, brimming with honesty and hope. Ages 10–up.

  • Kirkus

    May 1, 2017
    The only time 13-year-old Sophie can relax is when her alcoholic mother, Janet, finally falls into bed asleep.Sometimes Janet is happy, dancing and singing through the apartment. Other times she is angry and violent. After a particularly bad episode, Sophie returns from school to find Janet, a freelance fashion journalist, packing for an extended trip to Paris. Auntie Amara, with her dreadlocks and music, comes to stay in their quiet Brooklyn home. At first, Sophie feels suffocated by the attention. But trips to her aunt's church, a session at a local beauty salon, and long talks over steaming bowls of spicy stew encourage Sophie to relax. With her mother gone, Sophie has the space to consider who she wants to be. A light-skinned black girl with a French father and her mother's sense of fashion, Sophie is pretty. But a school project makes her consider the real meaning of beauty, and it is nothing like what she finds in Janet's fashion magazines. As he did in Husky (2015), Sayre once again proves that he understands the complexity of growing up. His confident story tackles race, sexuality, wealth, beauty, and faith as he revisits the characters and Brooklyn location of his first novel. This will encourage readers to press in to the difficult questions and look for the truth beneath. Coming-of-age never looked so beautiful. (Fiction. 10-14)

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    June 1, 2017

    Gr 6-10-Intelligent, poised, and confident, 13-year-old Sophie, who is biracial, lives with her mother, Janet, who is African American and has a successful career as a freelance fashion writer. Her mom is also an alcoholic. When the teen gets home one afternoon, her mother's sister Amara is there, saying she's going to stay with her niece while Janet is on extended assignment in Paris. Janet doesn't explain what she'll be working on or how long she'll be gone, and she leaves early in the morning before her daughter gets up. Life with Sophie's aunt is very different. Amara not only checks Sophie's homework but also insists they have dinner together every night and attend church on Sundays. While Sophie at first resents the loss of her autonomy, soon she begins to enjoy her time with her aunt and even considers moving in with her. After several weeks, when Janet suddenly returns from rehab, Sophie is stunned and hurt that her mother's whereabouts were kept from her, but eventually, with Amara's help, they reconcile. This follow-up to Sayre's Husky is the second installment in a series about a group of kids in a Brooklyn neighborhood. Despite a slow start, this title could spark discussion about young teens dealing with alcoholism in the family. VERDICT An additional purchase where the previous volume is popular.-Marlyn Beebe, Long Beach Public Library, CA

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Penguin Young Readers Group
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Pretty
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Justin Sayre
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