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Such A Pretty Face Paperback – August 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A 30-something's makeover hits a few snags in Lamb's wan latest. Stevie Barrett has lost 170 pounds since she had a heart attack at age 32, but she still struggles with the same old dysfunctions: horrifying memories of her insane mother drowning her sister, the toxic uncle who raised her, and deep insecurities that see her sabotaging herself at every turn. Adjusting to her new body, Stevie struggles to carve a self-image as she helps her cousins plan their parents' 40th anniversary party and battles a moral dilemma at the law firm where she works as a legal assistant. Lamb (The Last Time I Was Me) writes with an acute sensitivity in the quiet sections where Stevie plans her garden and contemplates the ramifications of her dramatic physical change, but these pleasant moments are drowned out by extended slapstick sequences in which her uncle and, in flashback, her mother, display the same outrageous behaviors over and over. Stevie's a winning heroine, but the underdeveloped support cast dominate too much of her show.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In Such A Pretty Face, author Lamb does not skirt around her heroine’s many problems. The book opens with a tragic memory from Stevie Barret’s childhood that would go on to define her life, and she eventually finds herself entirely alone and dangerously overweight. Her life is a restricted one in which she contantly feels secluded and lonely. After she undergoes weight-loss surgery and loses so much weight that she is literally half the woman she once was, Stevie slowly begins her own healing process. However, her path to healing is not a smooth one, and she soon finds herself facing many troubles: she runs into difficulties at the law office where she works, suffers from a crippling shyness around the opposite sex despite her new slim figure, realizes that her best friend is unsupportive, and must deal with a strained relationship with the aunt and uncle who took her in so many years ago and whose anniversary party she now must plan. Lamb writes Stevie’s story with humor and brutal honesty, and the result is an affecting portrait of one woman’s heroic journey from tragedy to her own version of happiness. --Claire Orphan


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington; 1 edition (August 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0758229550
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758229557
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.3 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #524,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Cathy Lamb was born in Newport Beach, California. As a child, she mastered the art of skateboarding, catching butterflies in bottles, and riding her bike with no hands. When she was 10, her parents moved her, two sisters, a brother, and two poorly behaved dogs to Oregon before she could fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a surfer bum.

She then embarked on her notable academic career where she earned good grades now and then, spent a great deal of time daydreaming, ran wild with a number of friends, and landed on the newspaper staff in high school. When she saw her byline above an article about people making out in the hallways of the high school, she knew she had found her true calling.

After two years of partying at the University of Oregon, she settled down for the next three years and earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in education, and became a fourth grade teacher. It was difficult for her to become proper and conservative but she threw out her red cowboy boots and persevered. She had no choice. She had to eat, and health insurance is expensive.

She met her husband on a blind date. A mutual friend who was an undercover vice cop busting drug dealers set them up. It was love at third sight.

Teaching children about the Oregon Trail and multiplication facts amused her until she became so gigantically pregnant with twins she looked like a small cow and could barely walk. With a three year old at home, she decided it was time to make a graceful exit and waddle on out. She left school one day and never went back. She likes to think her students missed her.

When Cathy was no longer smothered in diapers and pacifiers, she took a turn onto the hazardous road of freelance writing and wrote about 200 articles on homes, home décor, people and fashion for a local newspaper. As she is not fashionable and can hardly stand to shop, it was an eye opener for her to find that some women actually do obsess about what to wear. She also learned it would probably be more relaxing to slam a hammer against one's forehead than engage in a large and costly home remodeling project.

Cathy suffers from, "I Would Rather Play Than Work Disease" which prevents her from getting much work done unless she has a threatening deadline. She likes to hang with family and friends, walk, eat chocolate, camp, travel, and is slightly obsessive about the types of books she reads. She also likes to be left alone a lot so she can hear all the odd characters in her head talk to each other and then transfer that oddness to paper. The characters usually don't start to talk until 10:00 at night, however, so she is often up 'til 2:00 in the morning with them. That is her excuse for being cranky.

She adores her children and husband, except when he refuses to take his dirty shoes off and walks on the carpet. She will ski because her children insist, but she secretly doesn't like it at all. Too cold and she falls all the time.

She is currently working on her next book and isn't sleeping much.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By L. Gondelman on July 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
I absolutely LOVED this book. There I said it. And would you like to know why? It's simple really. The characters are real, the places are real, and the emotions are real.They are true, and they are believable. They are you, they are me, and they are your mother, your father, your neighbor, your cousin, or even your teacher. They are the people that are hiding from their pasts, that are struggling with day-to-day life and the people looking towards a better tomorrow.

Stevie Barrett is not the same person she used to be. After suffering a heart attack at 32, primarily caused by her severe obesity, she knows that it's now or never to get her life on track. So she makes the life-altering decision to have gastric bypass surgery and is now 170 lbs lighter. But this doesn't really solve all of Stevie's problems. Yes, it solves the weight issue, but not what caused her to almost overeat herself to death. She has many new challenges she must now face. She is grappling with a past that no child should ever have to live through, while at the same time trying to adjust to a life in her new body, deal with family issues, a moral dilemma at work, and, of course, there is that crush she's got on her gorgeous neighbor. There is also her obsession with chairs. Yes, chairs. Chairs that speak to her and tell her how they'd like to be designed. Chairs that fill her garage yet are kept hidden from the rest of the world. How is this a key to her past and how will it open the door to her future?

Stevie lived with her mother Helen, her baby sister Sunshine (whom she named) and her grandparents.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Alayne VINE VOICE on July 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
Stevie Barrett once weighed over 300 pounds. She ate food to smother the grief she felt over the loss of her baby sister, schizophrenic mother, and loving grandparents all within a short time period. She ate to lose herself. She ate to hide. And then she had a heart attack, and eating was no longer the solution if she wanted to survive. Several surgeries and 170 pounds later, Stevie has lost the weight but hasn't managed to find herself in the process. Such a Pretty Face is the beautiful story of one woman's search for herself amongst the burden of this thing we call Life.

At times both literary and whimsical, Such a Pretty Face fulfilled my need for a meaty, meaningful story, while also lightening my soul with love and sunshine. It made my heart ache with sadness for Stevie's childhood and the oppressing reality of schizophrenia, but the flashbacks to her earlier years are followed with laughter as she struggles to keep an outraged divorcee from tearing her ex-husband to shreds.

Lamb's writing is skillful and exploratory, drifting from inner dialogue to prose and back again. We really get to know Stevie, staying inside her head throughout the full novel, feeling the tide of emotions she is drifting on. With an oppresive uncle, a bulldozing best friend, a mound of medical debt, and a hopeless crush on her neighbor, Stevie is lost in the world and the narrative explores her natural sense of fear, followed by her internal strength and courage to stand up for herself and what she wants.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Marilyn W. on August 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
What an incredibly touching, poignant story. Lamb is so talented at bringing to life a community of characters who are distinctive and have led interesting--if sometimes very painful--lives. She paints their struggles and their relationships with compassion and, also, little delightful sparks of humor.

Stevie is a character who will stay in my heart for quite a long time. A highly recommended read and an especially good choice for book clubs!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By PamBakNJ VINE VOICE on September 2, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thought this was a great book and an incredibly engaging story. There were some very dark moments and painful to read but on the upside it had some actual "laugh out loud" parts. The combination was excellent. I know people who had gastic bypass operations and I could really relate to some of her feelings. Also, I have friends who have a difficult relationship with food, so I could relate to that as well. I think the author did an excellent job and I am a huge fan of Cathy Lamb's style Growing up in a dysfunctional home is also familiar to me whether it be mental illness or alcoholism or whatever, it changes how you see life forever. I highly recommend this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nancy, Forest City, NC on August 2, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I absolutely loved this book! Anyone (and who didn't) have issues in their childhood will recognize themselves in one way or another. Stevie is a very well-developed character that you sympathize with and cheer for as you discover who she has been and who she is on her way to be. She is a character that stays with you after you finish reading the book - like a very good friend. I have loved all of Ms. Lamb's book and can't wait for the next one but I think "such a pretty face" will be hard to top!
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