book review

Please, Pretty Lights by Ina Zajac

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***Received ARC from publisher via NetGalley***

At a young age, Via Sorensen, born Violetta Rabbotino to a famous but volatile painter, lost both her parents in a gruesome tragedy just four days before Christmas. Since then, she wants nothing else but to feel safe and be left alone. But alone and lonely on her twenty-first birthday isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and Via finds herself stumbling drunk into a Seattle strip club, and hurtled full throttle into the sex-drugs-and-rock-n-roll lifestyle. When she meets Matt who paints her body with a shield, she finds herself feeling safe in his presence, and the more they spend time with each other, the more her eyes open to how much more she wants out of life.

I had a little bit of a tough time getting through the first few chapters of this book. Although the opening scene draws you in right away, the chapters leading up to her signing up for amateur night at the strip club feels a bit chaotic and frenzied to me. Maybe it’s just me, but if you find yourself in the same situation, stick with it. It gets better.

Things I loved about the story: *Spoilers ahead*

1. The characters were fleshed out well. Closet wild child Via attracts passionate and creative Matt. My favorite though is Grandma Daney, a sweet lady who raised Nick and Matt with all the endearing new age eccentricities you find only in cool older people. She definitely would’ve made it onto my top 5 favorite maternal figures a few weeks back.

2. The images were so vivid that when Via and Matt were rolling, I felt like I was rolling with them. And I’ve never even done Molly.

3. The grit. As much as I wanted to physically pull Via out of having to get high with Carlos, the owner of the strip club, I have to remember that she is only 21 in this story, and still discovering who she really is. And as tough as it was to read how Carlos had drugged and raped her, I appreciated how it was treated. It wasn’t graphic, but you could still feel the weight of the mistake in the end.

4. It took a while for me to believe the chemistry between Via and Matt but the more I flipped the page, the more I rooted for them.

5. The friendship between Nick and Matt. There was a hint of a love triangle with Via, but I’m glad the writer didn’t push through with it. The story was good just the way it is. It would’ve been a waste to build such a strong foundation for their friendship, only to ruin it with unnecessary drama.

Overall, it was an interesting read. A story about falling in love and finding oneself, of breaking stereotypes and bulldozing through one’s own walls. It’s making mistakes and making amends, and knowing that in the end, this life is what you make of it.

Rating: 4 stars

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