Set in a rural community steeped in silence and denial, So Much Pretty explores all parents’ greatest fear, that their child will be hurt. But it also examines a second, equally troubling question: What if my child hurts someone else? The disappearance and murder of nineteen-year-old Wendy White is detailed through the eyes of journalist Stacy Flynn and a host of other richly drawn characters, each with their own secrets and convictions. After Wendy’s body is found, Flynn’s intense crusade to expose a killer draws the attention of a precocious local girl, Alice Piper, whose story intertwines with Wendy’s in a spellbinding and unexpected climax.
Cara Hoffman is the author of the internationally critically acclaimed novel So Much Pretty. She has won a New York State Foundation for the Arts fellowship for her work on the aesthetics of violence and its impact on children and has been a visiting writer at St. John's University, Goddard College, Columbia University, and Oxford University, where she lectured on Antisocial Masculinity for the Rhodes Global Scholars Symposium. Her essays have been featured on NPR, Red, Women Under Siege, and Truthout. Hoffman currently teaches writing and literature at Bronx Community College and sings classical music with the St. George Choral Society, Manhattan's oldest choir.
"This beautiful, stealthy novel creeps up on the mesmerized reader, subtly drawing new strands into itself until what begins as the suspenseful story of a rural American murder grows into a dark, disquieting and urgently fascinating examination of the violence and concealment practiced by a whole society. . . Hoffman never surrenders the compassion, insightfulness and humor that make her a masterful navigator of the human heart. This is an impassioned, intelligent and important work of art."—Chris Cleave, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Little Bee and Incendiary
“A haunting suspense novel about a murder mystery based on a real-life missing-persons case.”—Entertainment Weekly, #3 on “The Must List”
“[A] fearless first novel… For all the passion in this intense narrative, Hoffman writes with a restraint that makes poetry of pain. She also shows a mastery of her craft by developing the story over 17 years and narrating it from multiple perspectives. While each has a different take on the horrific events that no one saw coming, the people who live in this insular place remain willfully blind to their own contributions to the deeper causes that made this tragedy almost inevitable.”—New York Times Book Review
“So Much Pretty delivers a skillful, psychologically acute tale of how violence affects a small town . . . To say more about Hoffman's constantly surprising story is to reveal too much, but the payoff is more than worth the slow-building suspense.”—Los Angeles Times
“A dark but powerful debut . . . Hoffman maps the atmosphere of paranoia that descends on the formerly tranquil town as she moves deftly between its inhabitants.”—The New Yorker (Books Pick)
"An extraordinarily smart and beautifully written page turner. . . . suspenseful and highly charged . . . Hoffman passionately blends the issue of violence against women that lurks unacknowledged at the dark edges of our culture with a narrative that paints a grim picture of any-town America. Hoffman’s literary voice is a force and this novel will leave you reeling."—Powells.com
“The way investigative reporter Hoffman navigates the line between what is spoken and unspoken, and portrays a community's desire to address any crisis but the one next door make So Much Pretty a staggering read.”—Huffington Post
“Cara Hoffman has written an intriguing, tangled puzzle of a novel that defies categorization. . . . As haunting and disturbing as Alice Sebold’s Lovely Bones. . . . So Much Pretty will be equally provocative and unforgettable for teen readers, especially those who love solving a good puzzle.”—School Library Journal
“Hoffman takes on the poverty, drug abuse, environmental disasters and violence against women that are endemic to a small town in upstate New York. And she does it brilliantly, in stark and poetic prose, expressing a variety of viewpoints on the murder around which the story turns. And she does it in a way that lodges in the corner of your mind and just won't leave. . . . Alice Piper just may be the blonder, less-punk version of Lisbeth Salander, that girl of the dragon tattoo. . . . Everything counts in Hoffman's toned work, as even the tiniest plot point becomes important to the unfolding narrative. Pay attention to So Much Pretty. It's mesmerizing.”—New Orleans Times-Picayune
"A spectacular debut: This beautifully constructed mystery, with its engaging characters and intriguing premise, has everything a reader wants."—The Globe and Mail (Canada)