Book Talk: Pretty Like Us by Carol Lynch Williams

by Kelsey Norwood

in Making Good

pretty like us carol lynch williamsnI would probably never picked this book up on my own, but my husband works with the author’s husband who recommended it to me.  I was glad he did because I really enjoyed it, and like I said, would probably have never found it otherwise.

The story is about Beauty, an extremely shy and self conscious junior high aged girl who is raised by her very young mother and her grandmother.  Beauty’s mom and grandma have tried to teach her that “pretty is as pretty does,” so when a new girl with a strange disease shows up at school, Beauty’s character is tested.  The story is about a girl learning to balance fitting in with doing the right things and being a good person.

I really liked this story because it described the spectrum of a teenager’s, or any person’s, feelings of simultaneously trying to fit in but also trying to establish her own identity.  As I read about Beauty betraying her new friend to try to fit in with the other kids, I thought of how sometimes even adults betray who they really are to fit in with others.  I know I sometimes go along with the crowd to avoid being thought crazy or weird – we all do it in small ways.

I took from this book the same message I took from Stargirl, by Jerri Spinelli, that it’s okay to be different and that pretty really is what pretty does.  What a person does is what matters most.

I think all young teenage girls would get something positive and memorable out of this book, so share it with your daughter!


1 Michelle Baucum September 22, 2008 at 8:39 am

What a good story! Sounds like it really teaches people a lesson. Kind of like…don’t judge a book by it’s cover lol.

2 Baba September 22, 2008 at 9:18 am

Sounds like a great story for our teenager in the house. I bet she would love it. Maybe for Christmas or her Birthday which is coming up soon.

3 Wendy Lust September 22, 2008 at 9:25 am

This lesson is so difficult to teach in our society where everything tells a teen the opposite! I think it’s important to use every opportunity, including their reading material. Hopefully this book would capture a teen’s interest!

4 Jen T September 22, 2008 at 11:37 am

Sounds like a good read, especially for a daughter just getting ready to enter junior high—scary! Thanks for the suggestion!

5 Veronica M September 22, 2008 at 12:02 pm

This sounds like a great book–I totally agree with you that even adults do the same thing to fit in with the “crowd” unfortunately I’ve dealt with a few of those in the past.

6 Drew Williams September 22, 2008 at 2:28 pm

Let me start out by saying that Carol and I are two completely independent people, and while she is my wife (and a great one, at that!), our writing styles and interests are as different as living in a house with two writers can possibly be. So what I write, here, is truly “just my opinion.”

That said, I’d like to thank you for reviewing this book. It was I who recommended it to your husband, and I would like to make just a couple of comments:

First, I was so pleased to see that you found the same quality of value in Carol’s latest book as you had in Jerry’s work. The irony here is that Carol and Jerry Spinelli are very good friends, and both will appreciate the reference to the other.

Second, I have actually not read a word of this book (although I have read the other 21 books my wife has written). So I really appreciated your perspective on how the story moved. I look forward to experiencing it first-hand.

Finally, I am grateful for the inputs offered by the other people. Speaking in behalf of Carol, I can tell you that her greatest desire is to ensure there are quality books for young people to read, which provide views into the not-so- far-reaching (although those subjects also have their place and value).

So, again, thank you for taking a look at Carol’s work.

Drew Williams

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