Such A Pretty Face by Cathy Lamb

From Amazon ~

In this warm, funny, thoroughly candid novel, acclaimed author Cathy Lamb introduces an unforgettable heroine who’s half the woman she used to be, and about to find herself for the first time…

Two years and 170 pounds ago, Stevie Barrett was wheeled into an operating room for surgery that most likely saved her life. Since that day, a new Stevie has emerged, one who walks without wheezing, plants a garden for self-therapy, and builds and paints fantastical wooden chairs. At thirty-five, Stevie is the one thing she never thought she’d be: thin.

But for everything that’s changed, some things remain the same. Stevie’s shyness refuses to melt away. She still can’t look her neighbors’ gorgeous great-nephew in the eye. The Portland law office where she works remains utterly dysfunctional, as does her family—the aunt, uncle, and cousins who took her in when she was a child. To top it off, her once supportive best friend clearly resents her weight loss.

By far the biggest challenge in Stevie’s new life lies in figuring out how to define her new self. Collaborating with her cousins to plan her aunt and uncle’s problematic fortieth anniversary party, Stevie starts to find some surprising answers—about who she is, who she wants to be, and how the old Stevie evolved in the first place. And with each revelation, she realizes the most important part of her transformation may not be what she’s lost, but the courage and confidence she’s gathering, day by day.

As achingly honest as it is witty, Such A Pretty Face is a richly insightful novel of one woman’s search for love, family, and acceptance, of the pain we all carry—and the wonders that can happen when we let it go at last.

My Review ~

I absolutely LOVED this book. There I said it. And would you like to know why? It’s simple really. The characters are real, the places are real, the rulings are final – oh wait, that’s Judge Judy! They are true, and they are believable. They are you, they are me, and they are your mother, your father, your neighbor, your cousin, or even your teacher.  They are the people that are hiding from their pasts, that are struggling with day-to-day life and the people looking towards a better tomorrow.
Stevie Barrett is not the same person she used to be. After suffering a heart attack at 32, primarily caused by her severe obesity, she knows that it’s now or never to get her life on track. So she makes the life-altering decision to have gastric bypass surgery and is now 170 lbs lighter. But this doesn’t really solve all of Stevie’s problems. Yes, it solves the weight issue, but not what caused her to almost overeat herself to death.  She has many new challenges she must now face.  She is grappling with a past that no child should ever have to live through, while at the same time trying to adjust to a life in her new body, deal with family issues, a moral dilemma at work, and, of course, there is that crush she’s got on her gorgeous neighbor.  There is also her obsession with chairs.  Yes, chairs. Chairs that speak to her and tell her how they’d like to be designed. Chairs that fill her garage yet are kept hidden from the rest of the world. How is this a key to her past and how will it open the door to her future?
Stevie lived with her mother Helen, her baby sister Sunshine (whom she named) and her grandparents. We find out at the beginning of the story the tragedy that befell this family, the one that defines her life, and through flashbacks we learn more and more about what happened to Stevie and her immediate family when she was young. Aunt Janet was Stevie’s mother’s sister who, with her husband Herbert, and cousins Lance & Polly, Stevie went to live with when she was a young girl. Herbert (she refused to call him Uncle) was a tyrant. Aunt Janet was dominated by Herbert their entire married life and she has become a weak, shell of a person. Lance is a former football star who has made millions coming up with new business ideas and launching them (but only if his ankle twitched).  Polly is a well known newscaster struggling with eating issues of her own.  Cherie is Stevie’s boss. She is the managing partner of the law firm that Stevie works in as a legal assistant. She is absolutely hysterical and adds the humor that Stevie needs in her life.  Zena is her crazy co-worker who frequently finds Stevie outside on her way to work begging a piece of clothing with which  to  freshen up her night-before clothes so that it doesn’t look like that she’s just finished clubbing. Unfortunately Stevie is forced to work with a bitch of a woman on the case of a young boy permanently injured by a botched surgery. They are representing the hospital and refuse to settle with the family. Stevie finds some incriminating evidence against their client, but will she do the right thing and turn it over to the other side? Then there is Eileen, her BFF, who claims that Stevie cheated her way in losing the weight by having the surgery. She torments Stevie to no end. But what it really comes down to is that Eileen is overwhelmed with jealousy because Stevie is now thin. Can this friendship possibly survive the changes in both women? And then there is Jake, her hunky neighbor who Stevie avoids at all costs. She’s known to jump a hedge or two when she sees him coming just so she won’t have to speak to him. But he’s on to her game and slowly the two form a relationship that might just provide Stevie with the happiness that she’s looking for, and rightfully deserves.
This book is loaded with tough topics like anorexia, overeating, gay marriage, divorce, self-esteem issues, mental illness, abuse, and death. It is not for the faint of heart. BUT, it is also filled with love, hope, humor, honesty, devotion, trust and forgiveness.  You will want to reach right into the pages of the book to comfort those who are hurting. Does being skinny and having a “pretty face” mean you have it all? Nope. As the saying goes – beauty is only skin deep. From an opening that will tear your heart to pieces to an ending that will sew it back together again, Such A Pretty Face will make you laugh and it will make you cry.  It will make you feel. Because that’s exactly what a great book does.

Categories: Reviews | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Such A Pretty Face by Cathy Lamb

  1. heidi

    who was represented by the 2 cross in Stevies garden?

    • Traci

      Wish I knew. I’ve been trying to figure that out for a while now. Initially, the only people I could come up with are her cousins, Lance and Polly, but I’m not sure that makes sense. Now I wonder if they aren’t for Helen and Ricardo (her mom and dad)???

    • Traci

      Nix that. I finally figured it out. The two crosses are for the two babies Stevie miscarried while married to Eddie. Only took me reading the book 3 times for it to dawn on me…

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