Review: Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Making Pretty by Corey Ann HayduMaking Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu
Published by Katherine Tegen on May 12, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository

Montana and her sister, Arizona, are named after the mountainous states their mother left them for. But Montana is a New York City girl through and through, and as the city heats up, she’s stepping into the most intense summer of her life. Her father is distracted by yet another divorce, and she’s growing apart from her sister. Then she meets wild, bold Karissa, who encourages Montana to live in technicolor and chase new experiences. But the more of her own secrets Karissa reveals, the more Montana has to wonder if Karissa’s someone she can really trust.

In the midst of her uncertainty, Montana finds a beautiful distraction in Bernardo. He’s serious and spontaneous, and he looks at Montana in the way she wants to be seen. For the first time, Montana understands how you can become both lost and found in somebody else. But when that love becomes everything, where does it leave the rest of her imperfect life?

Corey Ann Haydu's third novel is a raw, romantic coming-of-age story, perfect for fans of Gayle Forman and Jenny Han.

Picking up a Corey Ann Haydu novel is always an exercise in masochism and self-improvement; it’s going to hurt, but you’re going to be a slightly better person once you make it through. Haydu gets to the heart of hard truths, dares to focus on heroines with a boatload of flaws, and flinches away from absolutely nothing. Making Pretty is approachable, engaging, hard-to-put down, and a tragically beautiful portrayal of girls trying to come of age and overcome their pasts.

Flawed protagonists aren’t anything new, but I think Haydu takes flaws to a level that truly matches reality. Often, the flaws of the main character can be enumerated on one hand; Haydu’s heroines have a bunch, small and large. Montana is desperate, impulsive, a liar, thoughtless, needy, and a lot more things. For all of that, Montana’s also a deeply sympathetic figure, the product of her environment. Her flaw to perfection ratio leans heavily to the side of flaw, but she is not a bad person. She’s a believable person, suffering from major esteem issues. My heart went out to her.

gif i've never been this miserable girls

The first thing that struck me about Making Pretty was Montana’s desperation. More than anything, her goal is to be loved. Not just loved. She wants someone to love her so much they don’t need anyone else. She wants to be loved above everything else, and she doesn’t want to ever have to doubt that. Deep down, she doesn’t want to share friends, and she lives in fear of people leaving her. Her desperation manifests in a deep desire to be liked, to be thought cool. All of this really hit me, because my high school self felt a lot of these same emotions; I remember that wish to be somebody’s number one, feeling like just that would make everything else okay.

“I want one thing not to change. I want there to be one part of our lives that stays the same, that we can depend on. I thought that was you.”

Montana and her sister Arizona have always been incredibly close, the stable island within the turbulent seas of their family. Their dad is a plastic surgeon, who has had an endless string of girlfriends and wives. He meets them, perfects them, and then moves on. He draws on any picture that comes near him, suggesting plastic surgery for the people in magazines and whoever sent them a Christmas card. The fact that the girls’ mother left them and that their dad looks at them as people who need to be perfected seriously impacted their self-worth; they’ve never been loved, except by one another, for precisely who they are. The constant parade of mother figures only increased their issues with the idea of love and romance. Because love has always been so tenuous in her life, Montana’s instinct is to cling to it with fierceness.

this is how your life should look gif girls

Something else that Haydu gets so right is that the family isn’t the most unhappy of all families. Montana and Arizona love their father, despite being very aware of his flaws, and they do have some good times together. In fact, they weren’t even aware of how strange their lives were until Arizona left for college. It’s the separation of the two sisters that really sets Making Pretty‘s events into motion. Without Arizona, Montana’s desperate for connection, so she clings to an unbalanced 23-year-old from her acting class. Left alone, the two no longer know who they are.

“We’re all just trying to survive the last terrible thing that happened to us, right?”

Karissa is a fascinating figure, and, actually, I think my only hesitation with this book is that I wish I knew more of her story. It makes sense that I don’t, since we’re looking at these people through Montana’s eyes, and she doesn’t know everything. Still, there’s such a story there, and I ache to know the truth of it. I actually saw the plot developments regarding Karissa coming: View Spoiler ». What I want to know is where things went after the events of the novel and what happened to her in the past. She remains a question mark very intentionally, but I would have liked to know a bit more.

gif i will be your crack spirit guide girls
One hundred percent how I pictured Karissa.

Haydu takes on instalove in this incredibly brilliant way in Making Pretty. Montana and this boy Bernardo have been flirting from a distance in the park for a while. After she dyes her hair pink, in search of something, he approaches her and then lets the girls dye his hair pink. The two connect immediately. It’s intense and emotional and they’re sure they’re in love. Making Pretty is a perfect example of how characters can be in love, but the book conveys that there’s love and love. I spent a lot of the book going “oh, honey” when they would make decisions or declarations. The evolution of their relationship makes perfect sense for their emotional states. Also, I love where Haydu has the relationship at the end of the book. View Spoiler »

Corey Ann Haydu novels are must reads for readers who enjoy the gut punch that Courtney Summers’ novels deliver. Every Haydu novel is painful, real, raw, and intense, and Making Pretty may just be my favorite so far.

Favorite Quote:

The sensation of holding in laughter, which is not unlike the sensation of holding in the words I love you or other hings that seem like they should be secrets but aren’t meant to be secrets. Both start in my stomach and flutter around and come out all at once when I have no more muscles to tense up as defense.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif i'm on a journey and i'm okay girls

2 responses to “Review: Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu”

  1. “Deep down, she doesn’t want to share friends, and she lives in fear of people leaving her. Her desperation manifests in a deep desire to be liked, to be thought cool. All of this really hit me, because my high school self felt a lot of these same emotions; I remember that wish to be somebody’s number one, feeling like just that would make everything else okay.”

    Sometimes I swear we are the same person. But so, based on this, I need this book so I can sob and reevaluate all my life choices. Noted. I’ve been sort of meaning to try out Haydu’s books for a while, and I think this one will have the greatest chance of success. 🙂
    Debby (Snuggly Oranges) recently posted…ARC Book Review: Lion Heart by A.C. GaughenMy Profile

  2. Hannah says:

    I was quite conflicted with the book, specifically with the two spoilers you mentioned. Gosh, I loathed Karissa so much – and the dad – but at the same time, she was fascinating.

    I did think that the author dealt really well with instalove re: Montana and Bernado – the way things are left at the end could go either way. But yes, I did want to slap them upside the head for their decisions near the end.
    Hannah recently posted…Review: The Marriage of Opposites – Alice HoffmanMy Profile

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