Thursday, February 2, 2012

Kathy Reviews: Pretty Girls Make Graves by Nicole Trilivas

ISBN #: 978-0615537122
Page Count: 208
Copyright: December 12, 2011
Publisher: Nicole Trilivas

Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

Sparked by a break-up with her married lover, Justine trades in college to live abroad, and descends into a destructive reinvention with a backdrop of the underbelly of Scotland, Ireland, and Australia.

Acutely aware that she's not the first girl to experience these formative misadventures, Justine hijacks the vocal chords of archetypal characters from myths, fairy tales, literature, and pop culture such as Medusa, Rapunzel, and Catherine (of Bronte's Wuthering Heights). She echoes the voices that display her story -- the violent exit from girlhood via a botched love life -- better than her own.

She doesn't have to write another mistress's manifesto; Kalypso, one of the betrayed goddesses from Homer's Odyssey, has that one covered. She was never overtly cruel without justification; that's the job of a sadomasochistic Wicked Witch of fairy tale infamy. She doesn't have a penchant for picking the wrong guy over her soul mate; Catherine does.

Pretty Girls Make Graves is a dark and stylized examination of the vicious things we do in the name of self-preservation, and questions the frantic necessity to tell our stories to establish human connection -- however ugly they may be.

Kathy's Review:

Trilivas' debut novel, Pretty Girls Make Graves, borrows its title from a Smiths song, and comes complete with soundtrack suggestions that I think were pilfered from my own iTunes library.

The anti-heroine of the story, Justine, is a full-on train wreck, drinking and hooking up night after night to try and erase the trauma of ending an affair with a married man. She travels abroad and lives in three different countries over the course of a year to try and heal from the emotional wounds. Justine reminds me of someone I could have known in high school or college - she could have been a friend of mine, or, I am scared to admit, could have been me at one point in my life had I made some different choices.

Told from both Justine's own perspective, and the borrowed perspectives of some literary characters, this is a cleverly-told, smartly written story that I found myself relating to a little bit too much. The way women sometimes need the approval of a man to feel good about themselves. Always picking the wrong guy, the one who is taken, the one who isn't interested, making it a game to try and win his affection.

There is so much emotion and realness to this story that I can't help but wonder how much of the author's own experiences have found their way in. There are black and white photos sprinkled in the pages, lending an authenticity to the story, making you feel like you are reading Justine's private journal.

Pretty Girls Make Graves ends with Justine going back to school in New York, but doesn't wrap everything up in a pretty package. In fact, I'm not sure Justine will be okay. If I were her friend, I'd still be scared for her and the lifestyle she is living. Because I felt connected to the character, I really enjoyed reading this book. Justine may have some serious baggage, but she's someone I know after she shared her journey with me. She made me see a little bit of myself in her. Plus she listens to some kick-ass music.

1 comment:

  1. Love it when a novel feels like it could have happened to you. More importantly, like the review. Good job on the personal touches.


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