Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Sometimes, Despite the Depth of Connection, Things Can Go Awry

Family drama. Most of us put forth a decent amount of effort in trying to shield ourselves from it. The good ole cliché of can’t live with it, can’t live without it reigns true, as we find ourselves intertwined with those who we will never see eye-to-eye with at all times. Despite blood lines and familial ties, things get complicated when an abundance of different personalities are expected to remain in one tribe. Things happen. Emotions arise through multiple perspectives and opinions becomes fact-based depending on who’s perceiving them.

And in the blink of an eye, one action, conversation, or matter of circumstance could arise, changing everything. Sometimes, despite the depth of connection, things can go awry. Quickly.

What about the times they’re not warranted? What about the times when holding grudges rips families apart that did not need to be torn? It happens, and Karin Slaughter displays it in a hauntingly intense way in her thrilling novel, Pretty Girls.

I do not say this lightly when I note that Slaughter’s story- published in 2015- is the most intense one I’ve ever read. There is nothing light about this novel honestly- other than the raw and real humor put forth by the book’s two lead characters, sisters Claire and Lydia, which I rather loved and needed.

I will add that I had to take several breaks while reading. The sensitive content was not always easy for me to take in, though in retrospect I found it to be a bit of a learning experience with regard to some of the subject matter. Slaughter has a way of setting a scene, of constructing her words so thoughtfully that it is impossible not to feel a sense of every character’s emotions throughout. But it was heavy, and graphic, yet consistent and well-read throughout.

It follows the story of the Carroll family, whose one of three daughters went missing with nothing but dead-ends to follow. Told in multiple points of view, Slaughter takes us on the journey of a family torn apart and how, years later, they find their worlds colliding once more when another woman goes missing as well.

At the edge of my seat with my heart racing from start to finish, this dark read unravels so many layers with twists and turns you can never see coming- even when you think you do. The last four to five chapters left me tear struck, impending fear for the way the plot would play out. To me, that’s a sign of one great writer.

Chills running through my body, there was a hyper-vigilance within me that would not go away until I knew everything I needed to know. And Slaughter did not make it easy. Through the multiple points of view, I found it intriguing to see the story unveil itself little by little by characters who were so different, steering my mind from one perspective to the next with a sense of imperativeness to express the truth of the tale. Slowly, but surely, I got what I never asked for yet could not stop reading until I found out.

Karin Slaughter had me so emotionally invested, that it took me time after reading to put the book to rest. I felt the remnants of their story slithering in me even after the story was through. The psychological suspense of a wicked past turned present nightmare took me to a place I have never been before while reading a book.

But nonetheless, if it is ever possible to see passed the gruesome, electrifying nature of the book, you will see the resonations of the complexities of many families who let their emotions get the best of them. What could seem like an unbreakable bond could be damaged by the thing you never even thought you’d have to consider.

We don’t know how we will react to and cope with things until we find ourselves in the situation. But unfortunately, there are times we find ourselves building walls instead of finding ways to break them. What I love about Slaughter’s story in terms of this theme, is that despite time and distance, some connections are never fully broken.

In spite of physical detachment, there are just some things that cannot be forgotten. Buried, maybe. But connections are much deeper than the physical. And in a story as grim as this one, it was a shining realization to make.

I want readers to know that the content discussed in this book speaks on topics that can be difficult for some, including graphic sexual abuse and murder. Though it is not touched on in this review, I believe it is important to note that while I do recommend this as a great read, that I would tread cautiously.

Check out the synopsis of the book and a bit more about it on Amazon here. If you give it a read, please let me know what you think. I want to know if the rest of yours hearts have stopped racing yet, because mine hasn’t! Gee, thanks, Slaughter 😉

-Christine Weimer, @beacolorfulyou

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