Review: Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu

Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu 
Publication date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Received ARC via Edelweiss (Thanks!)
Summary: Montana is a New York City girl and she’s stepping into the most intense summer of her life. With her sister Arizona wrapped up in college and their father distracted by yet another divorce, Montana’s been immersing herself in an intoxicating new friendship with a girl from her acting class. Karissa is bold, imperfectly beautiful, and vulnerable. She’s everything Montana would like to become. But the friendship is driving a wedge between Montana and her sister, and the more secrets Karissa reveals, the more Montana has to wonder if she's someone she can really trust. In the midst of her uncertainty, Montana finds a heady distraction in Bernardo. He’s serious and spontaneous and 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? (

The good
Every time I read a Corey Ann Haydu book – Making Pretty is my third – I am impressed by her writing and her ability to let me see into the mind of someone so different from myself. And Montana and I? We couldn't be any more different. It's summer in NYC and she's exploring who she is and wants to be in a way that's separate from the people in her life. Her father is a plastic surgeon who's been married many times and whose mind is constantly thinking about how to improve a woman's physical appearance. Her sister Arizona has been away at a college and for so long, they were two peas in a pod. Them against the world (and by world I mean their father and their rotating parade of stepmothers). They also share a best friend who's been away at college. You immediately get the sense that Montana is trying to find someone of her own. Someone to belong to and vice-versa. Which is where this story really gets complicated.

I think that desire to have someone is something we all feel deep down. We want a person who needs us and wants us around, whether it's romantically, platonically or even in a familial sense. My life may be different from Montana's but I understood what she was looking for (again, beauty of Haydu's words and characterizations!) even when she was making reckless decisions. And she makes a lot of them! She meets Karissa, a beautiful, vivacious girl who wants to be an actress and Montana thinks she's found a new best friend when in reality she's hiding unexpected secrets. She also becomes involved with Bernardo, an intense boy whose idea of romance is all-consuming. It's easy to see why Montana becomes so enthralled by him at this point in her life.

But even with Karissa's and Bernardo's big presence in the book, it's really about Montana and her family, both her sister and father and even the stepmothers. It opens her eyes to realizations about who they are, their past and what she wants her family to be from now on. And that tough journey of discovering these things made for an extremely compelling read.

(Minor) Reservation
I found the ending to be really abrupt. I mean, I liked what Montana wanted to do but the transition to that moment was a bit jarring for me.

Do I recommend?
I do! I recommend all of Corey Ann Haydu's books and they don't need to be read in any particular order. They're all great!

Collaborative feature with Alexa! 

What tattoo design would you get?
I've had a couple ideas for tattoos floating around in my head even though I'm 99.9% sure I would never get one. One would be the first few notes of "Fur Elise" by Beethoven. I taught myself how to play this when I was in middle school and it reminded me of why I fell in love with the piano. To this day, I can still play the first part (and most familiar) portion of the song from memory. Then last year Buzzfeed posted 27 Heart-Melting Sister Tattoos and ever since then, I've been thinking about how I'd love to do this with my cousin in California. Nothing crazy but maybe a super tiny heart or star tattoo in the same spot. And lastly (yes there's a third idea!), the words "carpe librum". It means "seize the book" and it should be obvious why I'd want this one!

1 comment

  1. I love the tattoos you would consider getting! I'm especially fond of the Fur Elise idea, because that was a piece I learned to play before as well and it's beautiful. Also, Making Pretty was so, so good! I do feel like the ending was abrupt, but I love how Haydu really dove into the desire to belong and to find your place for the most part.


with love,