Simon & Schuster has released the hardcover of Cara Hoffman’s debut novel, So Much Pretty.

Description: The Pipers are a family built on optimism. Claire and Gene moved with their precocious, beguiling daughter Alice to Haeden, New York for a fresh start. In doing so, they unwittingly re-write the story of her life.

Wendy White has strong roots in Haeden, a late-blooming young woman, mindful of family and home. Her story has a beginning and an end, but is missing the most important piece the middle. What happened to Wendy White?

Stacey Flynn is a reporter, both a seeker and a teller of stories. It is gritty, relentless and ultimately reckless Flynn who will chronicle Wendy White’s existence from all the fragments she can find, and forge a path toward the end.

But only we will ever know the whole story.

“I don’t consider So Much Pretty a crime novel, though it centers around two fairly gruesome criminal events. I consider it an accurate pastoral,” says Hoffman. “Pastorals of course were born from a kind of exhaustion of war writing, the need to lay down among the tall grass with the lambs and pretend that the bloody world of coercion doesn’t exist. In So Much Pretty you get to see what really goes on in that landscape and find that it’s not a reprieve but rather a mirror of war. Flynn takes up this idea explicitly, saying about the people of Haeden, that she was ‘thrown, entirely thrown by the price of their quiet lives, their contentment.’ So Much Pretty reveals an uncomfortable truth about who has been paying that price and for how long. And brings clarity to a very simple but intentionally obscured world people are heavily invested in seeing as “mysterious.” You don’t stop violence by looking away from it. But looking at it means addressing our own culpability and complicity and making difficult decisions about how to act.

“Claire Piper addresses the losing battle many people face to remain focused and honest when she says, ‘Sleep had won out at last. We moved through our days in Haeden in a somnolent kind of daze; blithe when our senses called for panic, blind to our deepest fear, even as it lay, naked among the tall weeds, waiting.’ Ultimately, So Much Pretty is not about one specific crime — it’s about a criminal way of life, and the difficult choices families, communities and everyday folks have to make in order to live with their awareness of that criminality.”

Read the Prologue and Chapter 1 here: So Much Pretty

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