So Much Pretty

So Much Pretty

A Novel

  • reading group guide
  • freshman reading
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.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451617283 | 
  • March 2012
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The Truth Behind SO MUCH PRETTY

Cara Hoffman delves into the inspiration behind SO MUCH PRETTY, her novel addressing the most disturbingly tangible issues of present day femininity and humanity.

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Prologue

THEY ARE LOOKING for someone with blond or dark brown or black hair.

Someone with blue or maybe brown or green eyes. She could be five foot six or five-eight. Her hair could also be red, could be an unnatural color like pink or white.

It is likely she weighs between 110 and 140 pounds and may have a scar or bruise on her throat.

She would be working somewhere unseen. Working as a waitress or secretary or laborer. She could be a student. There is a strong possibility she would have a nontraditional job. That she’s transient, works agriculture or construction or second shift.

She has... see more
Claire

ALL THREE OF us walked in our sleep.

Later, when I would think about what happened, I would tell myself she was sleepwalking. Acting out a nightmare. Sleepwalking ran in our family. Dreaming while walking. Dreaming while talking. I know this is not an answer. The real answer is too simple.

Did she have health problems? Was she low–birth weight? Did she have headaches? Self-destructive behavior? Sudden changes in grades or friends? No.

Alice was a remarkably consistent soul. Healthy and athletic like her father. At home wherever she was. Happy at school and happy with all the things outside of... see more

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for So Much Pretty includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Cara Hoffman. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


INTRODUCTION

So Much Pretty is a novel about family, community, and storytelling. The Pipers are a family built on optimism and on a deep-rooted commitment to community. Claire and Gene have moved with their precocious, beguiling daughter, Alice, to Haeden, New York, for a fresh start and to give Alice the freedom and opportunity they have always wanted for themselves. In doing so, they will unwittingly rewrite the story of her life. Stacey Flynn is a reporter, both a seeker and teller of stories. It is Flynn, gritty, relentless, and ultimately reckless, who will piece together the mysterious disappearance of a local girl, Wendy White—rebuilding her existence from all available fragments and forging a path to the truth.

QUESTIONS AND TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION

1. The story’s prologue is an ominous introduction. How does this dark overture—focused on searching out something that isn’t easily found— frame the story?

2. Describe Claire and Gene Piper’s relationship. How did see more

About the Author

Cara Hoffman
Photograph by Constance Faulk

Cara Hoffman

Cara Hoffman is the author of the critically acclaimed novels So Much Pretty and Be Safe I Love You. She teaches writing and literature at Bronx Community College and lives in New York City.

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