Published: May 2012
I'm glad this book exists for young readers. Not every YA protagonist should be cute, plucky and have boys falling at her feet. Having said that, Amy was a tough character to love. She's sullen, moody, and lacks confidence. She's miserable for the whole book. This is her journey of self-discovery, but I found myself wanting to shake her awake--my tolerance ran short after awhile.
Amy and her outcast friends get arrested on prom night when they are caught with a stash of stolen pot from the boys who stood them up. I found this to be a realistic premise. Can you imagine standing at a guy's front door in full makeup and a gown and no one is home? Out of revenge, Amy's friend breaks in the house and steals the drugs--enough pot that shows he's not just a casual smoker, but a dealer. The rest of the book details the repercussions of the girls' arrest, and how Amy's family forces her into counseling, a job, and community service, meanwhile keeping her away from her friends. Her mother blames Amy's friends for turning her into a delinquent, but for Amy, who is heavily depressed because of rejection her whole life from kids at school and her own mother, restricting her access to her friends is devastating. Until Amy realizes, maybe those girls weren't as loyal to her as she'd thought.
It's a tough book to get through as an adult, but I can really see this as a great one for reluctant young readers. In a recent NYT article with author Lauren Myracle, she stated that YA books were meant as a way for young readers to explore the world. Pretty Amy is like a Scared Straight for the suburbs set; a little glimpse into the judicial system for kids who get busted for drugs. It's also a great example to show how "bad girls" aren't simply bad, they just make poor choices, or get labeled that way from people who don't understand them. This book also shows how people have the ability to choose a different path, despite making mistakes.