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Pretty Little Mistakes: A Do-Over Novel Paperback – May 1, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
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More About the Author
Heather McElhatton is a writer and independent producer for Public Radio International. Her commentaries and
stories have been heard nationally on This American Life, Marketplace, Weekend America, Sound Money and The
Savvy Traveler. She also produced the radio literary series Talking Volumes. Heathers audio archive can be found at www.mpr.org
She has had several short stories published, including 'Red Shoes' which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2001. Writer/publisher Joyce Carol Oates published the story in
Princeton's literary magazine, The Ontario Review thatsame year.
Heather's new radio show is called STAGE SESSIONS and is held in front of a live audience at the Fitzgerald Theater in St Paul, Minnesota. The show is aired on Minnesota Public Radio a week later. Guests have included Sebastian Junger, Ann Bancroft, Bill Holm and Robert Bly. Their work is combined with other musicians, poets and humorists.
Besides ongoing reporting and radio commentary, Heather will appear on Ira Glass's television version of This American Life, which is slated to premiere on Showtime this winter. Her debut novel is a choose-your-own-ending book for adults called Pretty Little Mistakes and will be published by HarperCollins in spring 2007.
Top Customer Reviews
I do give both Heather McElhatton and whomever was her editor credit for handling so many story lines in one novel. Keeping track of that alone had to be a monumental task.
Every page or two, the reader is asked to make a decision. It could be something like go to college or travel. Or have sex with a mechanic to pay for your car or not. Or manufacture methamphetamine or not. At first it's fun, but it gets old. Because of the constant decision-making, there's no real character development so you don't really give to shakes what happens.
Some of the scenarios are fairly salacious, but I felt like the author didn't quite have the chops to pull it off. Reading it all felt to me like she was saying "Lookee here, I can write about having anal sex with your cult leader." I have nothing against salaciousness, but it just felt gratuitous. After the monkey-rape scene, I had to just quit reading.
I've heard that the author is writing an even larger collection as a follow-up. I won't be reading it.
(1) The pace of the novel is a big mismatch: all sections of the book seem to cover a span of perhaps several years at the most, until the final sections, which usually cover multiple decades of life with no possibility to make further choices. Since you never become emotionally enaged with the "you" protagonist, those summaries of entire lifetimes are dull to the point of irrelevance.
(2) Since the life choices are often so unrealistic, the lack of emotional connection with the second-person narrator also makes all choices you can make very random. Choosing well vs. badly loses meaning when you're not choosing as a persona with a defined personality.
(3) With the youth novels, some choices would lead to immediate endings, whereas others had plots that would grow and include many more choices, which kept things interesting. In this novel, if one choice leads to a final episode ending in death, the other possible choice also leads to a final episode ending in death. The act of making a choice seems almost irrelevant, since you can be guaranteed that you won't "make it any further" by choosing well (or even luckily).Read more ›
But I've only read through a few different paths and skimmed through the rest of the book to know that I'm done with it entirely.
I'll start off by saying that I'm not a conservative or so religious that it makes me a prude. But the fact that two options in, I WAS HAVING SEX WITH SOME HAIRY, POT-BELLIED MECHANIC IN FRONT OF HIS CREEPY DOG JUST TO GET MY CAR FIXED (!) really bothered me. (And no, that isn't one of the choices that I made.) All of the outcomes that I explored ended up like this (or worse!).
And yes, I fully understand that I wasn't going to like every outcome, but come on! The whole point of this book is to make decisions! And even in a fictional life, I wouldn't decide to be a completely one-dimensional, shallow idiot who would have sex with anyone (ANYONE) and only cares about the size of a man's junk. (I'm not lying; the author goes far enough to print `SIZE MATTERS' on one of the pages. Thirty-eight times in a row. Yes, I counted.)
And a very minor thing: You can only be female. That bothered me at first, but now it doesn't. Because I don't feel bad for the half of our species that doesn't have to suffer through this.
So, yeah, two stars.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I can't stop reading this book. I read some of the negative reviews and, to each his own, but those reviewers were reading the wrong book if they wanted realism or character... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Erin
My cousin and I read these CYOA books when we go camping in summer every year. It's always so much fun to live many different lives in the book and talk about how and where we end... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Halloween Mania
Brilliant. Want to know why there are so many negative reviews? Conservative prudes, that's why. This is deliciously scandalous and unpredictable and THATS THE POINT. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Laura
I started this feeling excited, it had so much promise. But after only one or two choices I realized I hated it. There was no development, no build up. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Jessica
Some of my favorite books growing up were the Choose Your Own Adventure stories. It was so thrilling to feel a part of the book, choosing what path to take next. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Whatwillshereadnext
I am basically repeating what everyone else is saying..this book has little redeeming value. Interesting in concept -- choose your path, experience different outcomes. Read morePublished on December 8, 2013 by Amazon Lady
this book is one of the worse books I have ever read. it started out interesting but then it becomes absolutely tedious and malicious. Read morePublished on August 5, 2013 by mariahdeyana
I was a huge CYOA fan as a kid. I found this book on accident and it didn't disappoint. The tales are a bit "out there" and the adventures do skip decades (as one reviewer... Read morePublished on April 16, 2013 by C. Porter
This review is going to be thick with spoilers, but you will thank me because you will understand why you have no reason to waste your time on this nonsense. Read morePublished on March 3, 2013 by bookworm