The Bossy Bookworm
Review of She's Too Pretty to Burn by Wendy Heard
Heard's young adult thriller was a lightning-fast read, and there's a yearning for connection between the two main protagonists that feels real and true.
Heard's young adult thriller follows the twists and turns at the intersection of three volatile young people--bored photographer Veronica; her best friend, mischievous performance art rebel Nico; and their new friend, Mick, who hasn't quite found her place in the world outside of being a competitive swimmer.
Mick, whose mother is emotionally unavailable (and barely physically present), has a lot to figure out and responsibilities weighing her down, meanwhile Veronica is pushing Mick past her comfort level into vulnerability. The girls fall hard for each other--but they've built their early relationship on lies that could destroy their possibility of true intimacy.
With Nico's troublemaking and incessant challenges to the status quo serving as a catalyst for fast-paced changes, everything begins to spiral out of control, threatening the girls' safety and the community around them. Veronica and Mick will have to figure out if they can trust each other with their lives.
I loved the girls' young love, but I was haunted by the fact that their relationship seemed doomed because of its basis in lies. Heard allows the teens to make realistically messy mistakes and experience devastating betrayals, but to also bravely try to trust each other again.
The stakes quickly ratchet up up up in She's Too Pretty to Burn so that the characters find themselves making life-and-death decisions, and their missteps aren't without serious consequences.
This was a lightning-fast read for me, and while the young people's circumstances build to be almost outlandishly complicated and disastrous, Heard presents what feels like a true yearning for connection between the two main protagonists, and that kept me hooked for anything else she threw at me.
I was haunted by how Mick's desperate situation and lack of options pushed her to say yes to uncomfortable compromises and take part in things she would likely otherwise have avoided.
I received a prepublication edition of this book (published March 30) courtesy of Henry Holt & Company and NetGalley.
Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?
She's Too Pretty to Burn is a fast read and I was in for all of it.
Heard is also the author of adult thrillers The Kill Club and Hunting Annabelle, and she co-hosts the Unlikeable Female Characters podcast.