Title: A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty
Author: Joshilyn Jackson
Release Date: January 25, 2012
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating:4.5 out of 5
Big, Liza, and Mosey are three strong-willed women living under the same roof. Big had Liza when she was just fifteen, and Liza, in turn, had Mosey at the same age. On the cusp of Mosey’s fifteenth birthday, Big worries that Mosey might make the same mistakes that her mother and grandmother made. But when Liza has a stroke, all of Mosey’s and Big’s energy go to caring for her. When Big decides to put in a swimming pool to help Liza’s therapy, the digging uncovers the skeleton of an infant. Big knows that the baby has something to do with Liza, but she wonders if that skeleton was Liza’s baby, then who exactly is Mosey and where did she come from?
A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty is told from three different viewpoints: Big’s, Liza’s, and Mosey’s. Big is concerned with keeping the truth from Mosey so that she doesn’t have to ask the painful questions of who her family is. She is a real Southern matriarch, hell bent on protecting her family at any and all costs. Jackson did an amazing job with Big, ensuring that her big heart will envelop the reader. She is fierce, yet so tender and loving, and it’s clear she has given up a lot in order to care for her daughter and granddaughter. Readers will instantly fall in love with Big.
Even though Liza is crippled physically by her stroke, her mental faculties are as sharp as ever. She tries as best she can to tell her story, despite her physical limitations, though her unreliable narration presents a tantalizing puzzle. The reader really gets to see Liza’s determination. She has a fire that no one can suppress, and while she doesn’t always behave like a proper woman should, she is very easy to love and sympathize with.
Mosey is perhaps the most complicated of the three in A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, but if anything, that makes her even more endearing. Despite Big’s efforts to protect her from the knowledge that she may not be Liza’s daughter, she figures it out for herself. What ensues is a hilarious, yet desperate search for her true origins with the help of Mosey’s best friend. Jackson writes her conflicted emotions amazingly well; Mosey doesn’t know where she belongs, and that uncertainty damages her.
The center of A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty is these three wonderfully written characters; though the plot is engaging and keeps the reader hooked on the narrative, it’s a character-driven story. It’s these women that will make you want to read late into the night, to ensure that, in the end, all is well. Jackson writes the Southern atmosphere amazingly well, and readers will want to kick back with a glass of sweet tea and devour this book in one frantic sitting.