Book Review: Pretty Thing by Jennifer Nadel

A stunning coming-of-age debut full of love and danger, secrets and lies: this is a dark, tense, hard-hitting novel about two girls forced to grow up fast… 

When fifteen-year-old Becs meets Bracken, she is convinced she’s found her soul mate. So what if he’s much older? He understands her, she feels free with him and when he holds her she feels safe.

But is she?

Some young women in the local area have recently been sexually assaulted. It’s the talk of the school. And when Bec’s best friend Mary-Jane becomes the latest victim, the true dangers hit home: just as Becs is starting to wonder about her future with Bracken – poor M-J rapidly shrinks away from life. . . 

Set during the sweltering hot summer of 1976, Pretty Thing is a powerful coming-of-age novel, a story of first encounters, dark obsession, broken trust and last chances – perfect for readers of Meg Rosoff, Lauren Oliver and Annabel Pitcher. I pits true love against real life and ask: is love all you really need? (From

Published by Corsair (UK) February 2015

Pretty Thing by Jennifer Nadel was one of those books I picked up and became immediately involved in, right from the very first page. Set in 1976, Nadel effortlessly captures the atmosphere of the time and despite being born the year after the book is set, I had the odd memory of the late 70’s/early 80’s vividly evoked. I thought the language and tone of the character’s conversation was particularly convincing, helped along with a pretty cool soundtrack of seventies classics.

I also found main character, 15 year old Becs, convincing. She comes across as both naive and mature in comparison to modern teens. I’m not going to lie, I found the affair between Becs and Bracken sinister and unsettling. Nadel certainly takes a no holes barred approach, delivered with brutal honesty. I admired how in such a short book, she created multiple, complex relationships for Becs and allowed her to grow and develope throughout the book. Over one summer and 250 pages we witness her metamorphosis into a stronger, independent young woman in charge of her own destiny.

I think readers will find some of the attitudes and actions uncomfortable in 2015. It reminds me how the world has changed in the last forty years, particularly for young females and also helps with the sometimes rose-tinted spectacles I occassionally look back with. While it’s marketed at Young Adults, I actually think this may appeal to an adult audience just as much, if not more. I’m not sure I liked the very ambiguous ending, leaving Becs future a mystery to the reader. I know how I hope it went, but I think I’d have liked the author to tie things up a little more.

 Overall, I was surprised by this book, I read it in a couple of sittings and it left me with quite a bit to think about.

My copy was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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