Author: Mary Kubica
Pretty Baby is a disturbing psychological thriller by the bestselling author of The Good Girl.
In a book of this genre multiple points of view help to build the suspense by unfolding each character’s story at a different pace and Pretty Baby is a perfect example. The story is told by Heidi, her husband Chris and the homeless teenager Willow.
Pretty Baby is filled with the heartbreak of homelessness, abuse and betrayal and these elements are all integral to the story. They motivate the characters, the conflicts and the suspense. Though there may have been predictable plot arcs there were also terrific twists that I did not see coming.
Heidi is a happily married mother of 12 year old Zoe, she works with the underprivileged in a non-profit organisation and is forever extending her charitable nature where she can. The first day she sees Willow on the train platform in the rain with a baby her indecision about how to help misses the moment but after seeing her on more than one occasion Heidi can not overcome her need to offer assistance. What begins as a jacket to shield the baby from the rain soon escalates into Heidi taking Willow home with her to help her get back on her feet.
Chris and Zoe aren’t feeling quite so charitable about the arrival of the dishevelled pair in their home but Heidi will brook no argument. It is wet and cold and they have nowhere to go. Chris concedes one night but Heidi stretches that out.
Slowly the story unfolds and we get to know the characters and their back stories from their own point of view. We discover that Chris and Heidi spend more time apart than together and one of the women in his department at work is young, hot and enough to shake Heidi’s faith. Chris loves his wife and daughter but money will always be his first love which makes these two quite an unlikely couple though they have always been strong.
The addition of Willow to the household starts to really highlight the cracks, there’s not too much I can say without heading into spoiler town.
The story centres on Willow and baby Ruby entering the Wood household. We find out what lead her to be on the train platform and all of the events that come after that but the way that it’s told means you don’t actually know right until the very end.
Chris is concerned that they know nothing about Willow, she could be a criminal, she could be dangerous and now they have let her into their home. She seems harmless enough but there is something in her eyes, a wariness and a coldness that hints that there may be more to her than they think.
I found Heidi and Willow very easy to connect with, they had been through so much. Chris was a little more difficult; he was away a lot and his words and his actions didn’t quite seem to send the same message.
Zoe is a character that we didn’t get to know very well. She was a secondary character at a tumultuous age and I think there was a lot more to her that could have been explored, some of her behaviours gave me cause for concern and I wonder if there isn’t more going on with her than anyone picked up on. Heidi is a little over involved in her life, has read all the parenting books and is determined to do it right – so could she not be able to see something going on right in front of her?
I really enjoyed Pretty Baby. It is gripping from the first page and there are lots of different storylines that keep you wondering what is really going on. There are some very confronting scenes and issues in these pages that just make it harder to switch off when the book is put down. Definitely worth a read and I will be keeping an eye out for more from Mary Kubica.