Book review: Pretty When She Cries by A. Zavarelli

Published October 22nd 2020


Your first kiss is supposed to be sweet. Ours was baptized in fire.
I was the new girl trying to find her place.
Landon was the brooding neighbor I tutored over the summer.
I didn’t know he was a legend at Black Mountain Academy.
I didn’t know they worshipped him like a religion.
But I fell for him before I knew those things.
To me, he was just the tortured soul who drew me in like a magnet.
And then he did something so unspeakable, so unforgivable, it shattered me.
I ran away then because I was weak, but I’ve shed my tears.
He stole my heart and my dignity, and I’m here to take it back.
The only problem is… he’s not giving it up without a fight.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Guilty pleasure time?

Spoilers alert! Sorry, I have to rant and fangirl at the same time.

First of all, this cover is seriously embarrassing. I have to insert my favorite gif for the occasion:

Are these abs supposed to distract us from non-existent male personality? Because in this case, the hero actually has one.
Yes, yes, he’s still your typical entitled jerk who treats everyone like shit and often thinks with his dick, but for ones, he acts according to his psychological portrait. Landon has a long history of abuse and early fame syndrome (the guy is a leading star in a super famous teenage tv-show reminiscent of Twilight or The Vampire Diaries. I actually appreciated the reference and couldn’t stop giggling). The guy basically never experienced normal life or had a real family. In psychology, such cases are called “orphan syndrome”, when people who did not have a functioning family or a long history of abuse, grow up socially distant, cold, and allure – basically a mild case of a sociopath.

By the way, Harry Potter was abused all his childhood, so in real life, he’d probably turn out like Malfoy or his cousin Dudley Dursley, and no, there’s no such thing as because his parents were good, he’s got good guy genes. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work like that in real life. Getting back to Landon, I actually was surprised by the depth of his character and horrified how normal it was for him when his mother basically attacked him and almost smashed his scalp. I get his asshole behavior: the guy needs serious therapy.

The second heavy issue of the story is that the heroine and hero were supposedly drugged and had intercourse at a party they attended together. They have no recollection of the event but are both tortured by trying to understand what actually happened at that party. Hence my favorite angst and loads of misunderstanding and blaming one another which results in a hate-to-love relationship. Teenage angst is the best and don’t expect this book to have breaks when it comes to it: you’ll get a full-blown picture of total stupidity when it comes to simply placing their assess on a chair and talking like normal people.
And, to be honest, rape in this book is a little bit aired because the characters experience a mutual attraction but it does not cancel the fact that they might have had sex which they don’t remember, and wasn’t a mutual decision. Plus there was a third person involved, which makes the whole situation more horrible, especially if both characters were virgins when it happened.

And the big thing number three – the eating disorder the heroine suffers. I quite enjoyed how this topic was dealt with in the book. The pursuit of a thin model-like figure which society imposes on us; the beauty standard that messes with teenage girls’ minds, and trying to fit not because you don’t feel comfortable in your own body but want for others to decide if you fit the pretty category or not. We all were there at one point in our lives.

To my surprise and despite the horrendous cover, Pretty When She Cries is actually a decently written story. The writing flows easily and it is quite pleasant. To put it simply: I was addicted despite the story being a total Santa Barbara with loads of misunderstandings. All that was needed to solve the growing ball of angst is to have a conversation. And though I rolled my eyes a lot, I still couldn’t put the damn book down! Everyone is a drama queen in this book, but I suppose I was in the mood to switch from the real-life issues, which I have quite a lot on my plate at the moment, to the exaggerated problems and the teenage drama overdose.

I have to give it to the author: she knows how to write a totally cliched story but to wrap it up in enough serious material to make one hooked despite the major flaws of the story. A kind of guilty pleasure that surely could be improved but still makes an unputdownable read. I think I will look at the author’s other creations closer. I need more fictional angst in my life!


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