Book Review: ‘Pretty Amy’ by Lisa Burstein

When it comes to the YA genre, I am hardly ever taken by surprise. I could usually determine what kind of story and how it will go a couple pages in. With Pretty Amy, even before opening it, I thought I had it figured out. After reading like five dystopian books in a row, I was looking for something light and cheery, and a story about a girl’s adventure at prom and getting arrested sounded something that may be lighthearted and entertainingly shallow.

Boy, I was WRONG.

One chapter into Pretty Amy, I instantly knew that I had stumbled upon a completely different story than I expected.  Pretty Amy wasn’t a lighthearted story about a girl’s shallow adventure at prom, but rather an emotional story about girl who makes some bad decisions and is trying to figure out her place in the world.

Amy has always defined herself by her friends, Cassie and Lila. Considered kind of like the “bad girls,” Amy has spent the past couple years of high school living up to the image, or at least much as she can. She smokes and drinks, but Cassie and Lila are a little more adventurous than her. But Amy has no problem hanging in their shadows. A series of events causes the girls to get arrested for pot possession and intent to sell on prom night. Cut off from her friends and facing possible jail-time, Amy is completely confused about what to do or even how to feel, especially since she is constantly being pecked at by her overbearing mother.

Basically, Amy is in some deep shit, and there’s not much help coming in from any direction. Or the help that does come, Amy refuses to accept. She’s definitely a girl that readers can relate with to an extent. We may not have experienced the same problems, but most of us know how it’s like to deal with insecurity. Amy is massively insecure, and without Cassie and Lila as her guides, she sort of resorts to feeling lost. And the best part of this story is watching Amy find herself and realize what’s really best for her. It’s important to point out that this story never preaches or judges people on their actions. In fact, the only preaching you’ll hear is from Amy’s incessantly annoying mother. Let’s just say that woman made me appreciate my mom a lot more.

Pretty Amy’s biggest surprise is its authenticity. Amy feels like a real teen voice. She’s not this perfect and super likable lead. That goes for the rest of the characters as well. While they aren’t as fleshed out as Amy, they seem like actual people, and they all serve a purpose in Amy’s story. The realness made it a tough read. Amy’s emotions got to me, and at moments I felt like I was back in high school too.

I definitely recommend Pretty Amy. It brought me back to how YA used to be, when it wasn’t full of vampires, futuristic worlds and star-crossed romances, just when it was telling stories about being actual young adults.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars


Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein is available at our TYF Store, powered by Amazon.

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