Pretty Amy

 
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Pretty Amy
Age Range
14+
Release Date
May 15, 2012
ISBN
9781620611197
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Amy is fine living in the shadows of beautiful Lila and uber-cool Cassie, because at least she's somewhat beautiful and uber-cool by association. But when their dates stand them up for prom, and the girls take matters into their own hands--earning them a night in jail outfitted in satin, stilettos, and Spanx--Amy discovers even a prom spent in handcuffs might be better than the humiliating"rehabilitation techniques" now filling up her summer. Worse, with Lila and Cassie parentally banned, Amy feels like she has nothing--like she is nothing.

Navigating unlikely alliances with her new coworker, two very different boys, and possibly even her parents, Amy struggles to decide if it's worth being a best friend when it makes you a public enemy. Bringing readers along on an often hilarious and heartwarming journey, Amy finds that maybe getting a life only happens once you think your life is over.

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Pretty Amy should be required reading for all incoming High School freshman girls!

Amy is raw and real; a roller coaster of emotions from snarky and bold to heartbreaking and sad to laugh out loud funny.

Amy is part of a BFF trio with Lila - the pretty one and Cassie - the tough one. She knows she's the back up friend, the wing girl, the leftover and she's okay with that. It's better than being a complete nobody, right? When the girls are stood up for their Senior Prom and end up crowned Jailhouse Queens instead of Prom Queens, Amy faces a summer of work and community service that gives her plenty of time to consider the choices she's made.

Things at home have been strained and her arrest certainly doesn't help. Amy's relationship with her mother is contemptuous at best but they do share some hilarious moments. As her case moves forward and the threat of real jail time hangs in the balance, Amy struggles to find out who she is apart from her friends and the expectations of her mother. In the end, she'll find out who her real friends are, meet some new ones along the way and that romance she's always dreamed of, just might show up after all.

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Not my type of book

Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein
ARC received from Entangled Publishing
Release Date: 5-8-2012
The Sisters Say: A candid portrait of a teenager’s painful road to self-discovery

Pretty Amy is a heart-breaking tale of a teenager’s struggle to climb herself out of the downward spiral that has landed her at rock bottom. Lisa Burstein shows us what it’s like to be lonely and then accepted and then outcast and vilified in high school.

When I first started reading this book, I had a very difficult time getting from one chapter to the next because Amy was so heart-breaking. She’s shy and insecure and every bit of her self-worth is based upon how other people see her. She’s an avid smoker and, following her friends, tries to rebel against the normal life that haunts her. I had a really difficult time relating to Amy because I never got in trouble in high school (my parents were teachers so I steered clear of trouble!), and I loved high school and cheerleading and prom and all the other experiences it had to offer. With that said, I am glad I finished the book because it did get much better near the end, and I finally had some respect as Amy began to forget about the world and concentrate on herself.

Amy wasn’t the only character that caused high emotions with me¬¬—there were times I literally wanted to punch her parents (especially her mom) in the face. And then stomp away, only to return and hit them again! Being a parent, I tried to imagine myself in their situation—a child in trouble with the police for drugs; but even thinking about that, I was still angry with how her parents responded. I won’t say any more because I don’t want to spoil it, but let’s just say, high school isn’t the only obstacle with which poor Amy must learn to deal.

So…what did I enjoy about the book?

I love Amy’s sarcastic side—that’s the only part of her that is truly her at the beginning. She’s smug, smart, and misunderstood; and all of those characteristics come out in her sarcasm. For example, at one point Amy is talking about her mom, “For Chanukah last year she got me an itchy sweater and Chicken Soup for the Daughter’s Soul. The inscription read, FYI.” This is the part of Amy that I enjoyed, and as she grows throughout the novel, we see more and more of the true Amy.

I also really love Joe, Amy’s ex-best friend. We catch small glimpses of him throughout the novel, and although at times he comes off as a jerk, you can truly see that he has a good heart. He is the character that brought a smile to my face and kept me waiting for more! I do wish there would have been more of a romance in the novel because I’m a sucker for romance, and I think it would have given a slight break from the gut-wrenching torment that Amy went through day by day.

Overall, I think many readers will relate to Amy or will recognize a friend in her. It’s a truly honest depiction of the pains that loneliness and insecurity can create, and how, seeking attention, someone can act out in the worst ways. While this book wasn’t really for me, I do believe that it will gain a large number of fans who feel for her situation and who can learn from Amy’s road to realization.

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There is nothing pretty about high school

If, like me, you view your high school years as something best left never revisited, and if, like me, you wonder if you really existed in high school, then perhaps you should approach reading Lisa Burstein's Pretty Amy with caution. You might experience some post traumatic-related flashbacks.

Despite the somewhat optimistic cover, featuring a young girl in a puffy prom dress, Pretty Amy is anything but light and puffy. It will make you think, occasionally shudder, and perhaps cry a little.

Amy Fleishman is 17 and joining her best friends, Lila and Cassie, for prom. Lila lined up the dates, and the girls are ready. But the dates prove to be no-shows, so the girls head to prom alone. Well, they are accompanied by a bag of pot that one of the girls pilfers from the boys' home. And that bag proves to be their undoing, for a mere few hours later, the girls are arrested for possession, among other crimes.

Amy's parents are irate. Her mother, with whom Amy has a sour, maddening relationship, decides to fire the preemptive strike, forcing Amy to (a) get a job (at the Gas-N-Go, of all places), (b) visit a therapist (a hippie who sits on a bean bag chair and wears tie-dye), (c) perform community service (trash, old people, pets) and (d) hire an attorney, who she must pay using the money she earns from Gas-N-Go.

Before you start thinking that Pretty Amy is some kind of cuddly, comedic YA novel, let me disabuse you of that notion. Pretty Amy is miserable, but in a good way. Amy Fleishman is one messed up kid, but she's messed up in a way that most of us can relate to or at least commiserate with.

Amy is lonely, isolated, and largely ignored by the world around her. She is a teenaged girl who wants to connect with someone other than her pet bird, AJ. She wants to be noticed, to be different, to be appreciated. She wants her parents to really know her, but not rule her. She wants to feel valued.

And she doesn't.

During her summer of legal purgatory, Amy learns a lot about herself. She has several helpers along the way, whom she refers to at one point as a "psychedelic Wizard of Oz"-type group, but her voyage of self-discovery is largely done alone. Which, really, is as it should be. If she relied on others to help her figure herself out, she might not believe them.

While I enjoyed Pretty Amy quite a bit, I do have some questions that bothered me. The first is college. Amy never mentions it. I teach high school students, and I have yet to meet one who is not obsessed, in one fashion or another, with college, especially at the end of their senior year. We learn nothing about Amy's plans for the future, even at the end of the book. That seems like a pretty large omission, especially for a girl so worried about her place in life. Amy gives great lip service to how she felt a part of the Lila and Cassie group, yet it is clear she never was. She also talks about how she enjoy smoking because she enjoys how smoking makes her feel. She's different when she smokes. Yet she hangs out with Lila and Cassie, two smokers, so isn't she just like them?

But the college thing really bothers me.

Still, this is a good book, and I am grateful to Lisa Burstein for the ARC, which I won in a Twitter contest. It made me think about my students, and it made me so grateful that I only work in a high school. I'd hate to be a student in one again.

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A Must Read for all girls/women!

Pretty Amy was not what I expected - and that is such a good thing!
I expected the story to be lighter and fun, and again, I am so happy that I was wrong.
Amy's story is not dark, it may be slightly depressing and sad - but it has it's funny moments too.
I am amazed on how Lisa Burstein's writing was able to draw me in and remind me what it was like to be a senior in high school again - every time I was forced to put the book down I had to remind myself that I am no longer that teen and that I am married with children, a billion years away from being an 'Amy' again, lol! But every time I started reading again, I felt for Amy and knew exactly what she was going through... well, sans the arrest...

Amy is the quiet one of the group who goes along with whatever her 2 rebellious friends, Lila and Cassie, say and do. And in the process of being cool with them, she loses her longtime childhood friend.

Then on Prom night, the trio get ditched by their so-called dates and long story short, they end up being arrested for possession of pot. And of course, the teen drama begins and it's the end of the world as we know it! Amy is forbidden to see any of her friends, her cell phone is taken away, she has to get a job to pay for the attorney her parents hired, she has to see a shrink and she's pretty much on house arrest. She has also been expelled from school, which meant that she was not allowed to finish the last week of school - and even though she will graduate, because she was no longer permitted on school grounds, she was also not allowed to go to her graduation ceremony.

Now, we meet Amy's parents.
Her mom is overbearing, very picky and seems to care more about what people think than her only daughter. The Dad is very laid back and seems to be your typical kind of Dad that hasn't accepted the fact that his little girl is growing up and tries to downplay everything that is going on by making bad pancake breakfasts and letting his wife make the decisions.

At first, I really had a hard time with Amy's parents, I felt like they weren't really there for Amy and that they were being too harsh and making things worse for her. But then I remembered what being a teen was like, the things that I went through, the things I saw my parents went through and now that I am a parent too - I get it!
Amy's parents, just like a lot of parents, think that things for teens should be so easy.
They forget and don't understand how hard life could be for a teen, especially a teen that has lost her way and doesn't know who she is or who she wants to be. How difficult it is to find your own voice and just speak up. Amy has never had anyone to rely on or to talk to. No one who ever showed a genuine interest and listened to her... or did she???

The ending is really good. I won't say anymore due to spoilers!
All girls should read Pretty Amy!
No matter the age, just like Amy, you will find that you are never alone!

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