Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
Expected Publication: 28 July 2015 by Mira
Genre/s: Contemporary, Thriller
Source: Publisher for review
She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can't get the girl out of her head...
Heidi Wood has always been a charitable woman: she works for a nonprofit, takes in stray cats. Still, her husband and daughter are horrified when Heidi returns home one day with a young woman named Willow and her four-month-old baby in tow. Disheveled and apparently homeless, this girl could be a criminal—or worse. But despite her family's objections, Heidi invites Willow and the baby to take refuge in their home.
Heidi spends the next few days helping Willow get back on her feet, but as clues into Willow's past begin to surface, Heidi is forced to decide how far she's willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated.
Pretty Baby is a book that I found very difficult to put down. It’s that addictive kind of reading where you can see the disaster coming and you just have to know NOW what is going to happen. Told in three perspectives, current day Heidi and her husband Chris and past Willow, each perspective is distinct and equally compelling, and although at times it’s disappointing not to know Willow’s current day thoughts and feelings, the gradual reveal of her history keeps the mystery element high.
Apart from the main plot between Heidi, Willow and the baby, there’s also a secondary plot between Chris and Heidi that adds an extra dimension to the storyline, and helps build the characters of Heidi and Chris even further. Unfortunately the plot felt rather familiar and predictable, possibly because I’ve read a few similar plots in the not-so-distant past.
Heidi is the successful mother of Zoe, and a kind hearted woman who is dedicate to helping people less fortunate than herself, which is how she becomes entangled with Willow – a homeless teen with a baby who appears at the train station that Heidi regularly travels past on her daily commute. Overwhelmed with concern and sympathy, Heidi makes the first steps to gaining Willow’s trust, eventually inviting her into her home, along with her tiny baby Ruby. As a character, I felt like I should have liked Heidi – she’s kind-hearted and open, and although she is quite an overprotective and overinvolved parent, her good intentions are clear to see. Getting into Willow’s head is much harder, given that her perspective is really only a gradual reveal of her past.
At times however it felt like the characters changed too drastically, too quickly. Not that it wasn’t particularly unrealistic, but more like Kubica was rushing to get to the point, when a little bit of time would have made the book feel a little more sinister and tense.
Would I Recommend It? Yes, if you like psychological thrillers, Pretty Baby has many of the elements that make psychological thrillers fun to read – there’s mystery, unreliable narrators, a side plot that doesn’t take away from the main story, and good characters.
Pretty Baby is a good psychological mystery thriller and I would definitely recommend it to fans of the genre, I’m just a little disappointed that the plot wasn’t as shocking to me as it could have been, and I really wanted to know Willow’s thoughts on the here and now.