Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica is Pretty Good

Pretty Baby

Venturing outside my usual genres, I picked up Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica.  This is her second book, and her third will come out in May of 2016.    Worth the adventure.  Here is the story:  Heidi and Chris and their tween daughter Zoe live in downtown Chicago.  Heidi works at a literacy non-profit. Her husband Chris is a fairly successful business man with lots of travel and a few temptations, and Zoe, quintessentially moody, is their 12-year-old only child.  Heidi sees Willow, a homeless teen with a young baby, looking tired, hungry and ragged near the train.  A chance second meeting gives Heidi opportunity to follow the instinct she had at first; Heidi decides to buy dinner for Willow and her baby.  As her social worker genes get stronger, she soon buys diapers and other necessities for the baby, and eventually invites them to come home and stay with her family.  Chris and Zoe are not thrilled.  What unfolds in a seriously page turning way, is Willow’s story of how she ended up on the streets of Chicago with a four-month old baby, and why Heidi is so eager to help her.

Pretty Baby has some good twists and turns and plays on stereotypes to keep the reader questioning motives.  What is underneath was not what I expected. What made this read engaging for me was that the circumstances are in many respects everyday realities.  If they aren’t our particular reality, we all know someone … we juggle work and family, we pass homeless teens-some of us ignore them, some of us give them money, maybe some of us are tempted to take them home, give them a shower and a hot meal, and think that our efforts can fix what ever it is that landed them on the streets in the first place.  A teen with a baby pulls even more at the heart-strings. Our friends battle cancer, we hold the desire to make more, have more, and seek praise. We adore our children even when they challenge us.  It can be satisfying to armchair quarterback these predicaments via fiction and that is what makes Pretty Baby work.