Bebe Baker has always been pretty, right up until the car accident. She survived, but came away from it with scars all over her legs and hands. In addition, she was left with some extremely deep emotional scars. Her boyfriend, Aaron, who she was madly in love with, did not survive the accident.
Even worse, the accident happened after the two of them had been drinking and smoking dope, and shortly after they had gotten into a big argument. Everything about Bebe’s life changed in the blink of an eye, including her personal appearance. What can you do when your whole world has crumbled around you? Where do you get the strength to move on, to grow, and to find redemption?
Bebe has been searching for something for most of her life, and not quite finding it. She might have been more successful if she could figure out exactly what it was she so desperately needed. The majority of the book takes place after Bebe began living in a halfway house. It comes with a curfew, rules, and therapy. Bebe puts up with these stipulations, but resents them at the same time.
While she’s there, Bebe is working on getting her degree in cosmetology school. It isn’t exactly her passion, but will do. The scars on her hands and legs shock some of her classmates, and Bebe can tell. She’s stuck remembering the loss of her beauty as well as the loss of her boyfriend. Counting down the hours she has left to go before she can graduate is one of the ways she copes. It helps that she has made two good friends who are also students at the school.
This book isn’t just another story about a young woman who goes to “rehab” and comes out clean. There’s much more to it than that. Readers view the story from inside Bebe’s head, and get to listen in on her thoughts. Bebe has years of emotional baggage to unpack and dispose of.
She’s realized that drugs and alcohol aren’t the answer, but misses what her life was like before the accident. It is as though she’s not quite aware of that thought, and sometimes finds herself reaching for some substance to help her in a time of need. At the halfway house, she winds up sneaking into the kitchen and scarfing down other people’s food. Bebe doesn’t have the slightest idea why she is doing this, especially since doesn’t have a food disorder. Eventually, the reason for her sudden hunger becomes clear.
Bebe has started a relationship with a guy named Jake, who lives in the men’s version of the halfway house that Bebe resides in. Jake believes that he is Jesus, and this connects with Bebe’s past in a bizarre way. When she was younger, she got “saved”, but things didn’t work out the way she envisioned them. She uses her own, unique, type of prayer as a coping mechanism, long after she stopped believing.
The two are not supposed to be dating, but continue to, in what can be best described an unhealthy relationship between two people who haven’t quite sorted out who they truly are. For Bebe, this is a “for now” type relationship that she is mostly enjoying… right up until it becomes clear that “now” has come and gone.
Without going into “spoilers”, I can say that readers will find Pretty to be an emotional roller coaster. It’s thick with angst, regret and longing, but also love, strong friendship, and hope for redemption. There are key moments where a big decision must be made, and I found myself almost holding my breath as I waited to see which path she would take.
By the end, Bebe is living a life she never would have predicted when she came to the halfway house. It feels like the closest that Bebe has ever been towards finding what she needed. The situation is unique, and supportive, but also filled with the potential of things to come. I found myself hoping that Bebe finally found “home”.