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Diana Montez

Diana Montez learned to speak English within four months of her arrival in Montreal with her family from Argentina. Like most budding bibliophiles, her love of literature has morphed from classic fairy tales to contemporary womens literature.

When I discover a book or author I love, I must share it, and I loved this book. As such this won't be so much a review as a recommendation.

Such A Pretty Face by Cathy Lamb (Kensington Publishing Corp, August 2010, ISBN-13:978-0-7582-2955-7) follows the life of the protagonist, Stevie Barrett from girlhood into early adulthood. The story begins with a devastating scene that will scar and riddle Stevie (and possibly the reader) with guilt that she will wear, literally all over her body like a comforting blanket.

Stevie learns at an early age the anesthetizing effects of food. When at the age of thirty-two, Stevie suffers a heart attack, she commits to change by way of bariatric surgery, which will cause her to lose 170 pounds. However, this is not a tale about a fat girl gone thin, since unfortunately, the emotional scars, which have shaped and reshaped her body, self esteem, and views of her world, cannot be surgically removed.

Such A Pretty Face shuttles between past and present interweaving both a heartwrenching and sidesplitting tale. The dominant thread is the coming to terms, in adulthood, with the aftermath of a parent suffering from advanced mental illness, via the fabric of childhood memories, It begins and ends with one horrific event, and unravels the yarns that knitted up the tale.

The cast of supporting characters are at times tragic, eccentric, or just plain mean, and yes, loving and lol nuts. This is a poignant pastiche about how to heal the past in the present, about the courage and determination it takes, and about, what it takes out of you. It is not so much about losing your fears, but more about how to walk into them, not so much about becoming someone else, but about working with what you have to define and become yourself.

It is a story about the havoc caused by mental illness, abusive relationships, but at the same time, about love and its many faces: the strength and restorative powers that can be drawn from this love in order to know peace.

I loved all of Cathy Lamb's books, Julia's Chocolates, The Last Time I Was Me, Henry's Sisters, and Such A Pretty Face. All these books focus on the theme of family dysfunction and its consequences. Through Lamb's wonderful story telling, I often found myself laughing and crying, and sometimes both at the same time. I hope you read Such A Pretty Face (or any of Cathy Lamb's books).

PHOTO: Jonathan Reinblatt

"Through Lamb's wonderful story telling, I often found myself laughing and crying, and sometimes both at the same time."

Let me know your thoughts about this book or a book you read recently that, like me, you absolutely must share. I'd love to hear from you at: SheBooks@Stylesense.com