Monday, October 15, 2012

Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein

I do love my books about wolves, fairies, angels and witches, but that doesn't mean I don't like a contemporary novel every now and then. I had been hearing so much about Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein in social media for quite some time and I went to the Barnes and Noble and bought the book. I guarantee you, you won't be disappointed by what Burstein put into this novel.

Amy is fine living in the shadows of beautiful Lila and uber-cool Cassie, because at least she’s somewhat beautiful and uber-cool by association. But when the girls get stood up for prom and take matters into their own hands—earning them a night in jail outfitted in satin, stilettos, and Spanx — Amy discovers even a prom spent in handcuffs might be better than the humiliating “rehabilitation techniques” now filling up her summer. Even worse, with Lila and Cassie parentally banned, Amy feels like she has nothing — like she is nothing.
Navigating unlikely alliances with her new coworker, two very different boys, and possibly even her parents, Amy struggles to decide if it’s worth being a best friend when it makes you a public enemy. Bringing readers along on an often hilarious and heartwarming journey, Amy finds that maybe getting a life only happens once you think your life is over.

I'm going to give you the honest truth about this book, as opposed to the majority of contemporary young-adult books out there, this one is more suited for teens with how real it is. There are teens who do go out and have their thing on prom, whether with jocks, or nerds, and they do struggle to find themselves, and sometimes when you struggle to find yourself hanging out with the wrong crowd or people you thought were suppose to be your friend you will end up in situations. Which is what happens to Amy throughout this novel; she struggles to find herself and gets into trouble with people she thought was her friend. Burstein did a wonderful job of writing a character that a teenager can relate themselves to, and if I must say, a much better job than what Sarah Dessen writes. 

I had some questions for Lisa and contacted her and she graciously responded back to my questions, here are the answers.

How long have you been writing? 
Since second grade. I began seriously writing about ten years ago. I got my MFA in fiction and went to work on my first novel. A couple novels and two agents later, I'm published! That makes it sound easy, but it really took TEN YEARS!

You decided to write Pretty Amy as a YA Contemporary with no supernatural elements. Why just a regular YA Contemporary? 
Well I knew I wanted the story to be very real. Something that teens could relate to as something they or there friends had the possibility to experience or had experienced. The only way to do this was to write contemporary. I would even go further and say that PRETTY AMY is really real contemporary.That is what readers are really responding to, the total honesty of it, the lack of BS in the book.

What inspired Pretty Amy? Certainly the way I felt in high school. I was a lot like Amy. Just like her I had such a desire to belong, to fit in, to have people who understood me. I wanted that so badly and I guess I never felt like adults understood that. It was most of the reason I wrote PRETTY AMY. If I'd had it when I was in high school I feel like I would have been able to understand my feelings better. I wouldn't have felt so alone. 

Was Pretty Amy based on your own experiences as a teenager? I was arrested during my senior year of high school, not for the same reason Amy was, but that was where the kernel came from. I also knew I wanted to write a "shocking" book from a teenage girl's point of view. I feel like you can get away with your character being a murderer, or a jerk, or just a smart ass more easily if your book isn't contemporary and I wanted to try to break that mold with PRETTY AMY. 

Is Pretty Amy a message for teens? I didn't write it as a message book, but I do feel like teens and adult readers are taking things from it. One of my favorite things a reader said was, "PRETTY AMY teaches you to find your own identity, and to not feel like you have to transform yourself into another person's image just to fit in. It lets you know it's okay to not fit the mold and be yourself."

I enjoyed Cassie, but I mostly had a soft spot for Amy, I was like Amy growing up. Odd, different, barely any friends and never really fit in anywhere. I strongly recommend this book for girls and adults! It's a wonderful read!