I’ve been a fan of Emily Liebert’s writing since I picked up her touching debut novel, You Knew Me When, a few years ago. She has an amazing talent for crafting complex female characters and engaging plots. Though her new novel, Pretty Revenge, is a bit more of a suspense story than her previous ones, her wonderful talent remains on full display.
Pretty Revenge follows two women in alternating first person narratives. We first meet Kerrie O’Malley, a 20-something woman who has just lost her job and is living with a boyfriend she finds more than faintly repulsive. When she turns on the TV and sees Jordana Pierson, an acquaintance from childhood who did Kerrie wrong in some way, Kerrie is shocked. Now a Manhattan wedding planner to the rich and famous, Jordana announces that she is looking for an assistant and Kerrie’s life changes in an instant. After moving to New York and undergoing an extensive makeover to change her appearance, Kerrie applies for the job under the name Olivia Lewis. The two women develop an efficient working relationship that soon deepens into a trusted friendship. Once that trust is established, Olivia is free to exact revenge on the women who ruined her life so many years ago.
“Jordana took everything from me, and now I’m going to take everything from her.”
Meanwhile, Liebert expertly doles out information from both of their pasts in small, delicious parcels. The interweaving of the present and past narratives is seamless and enviable, and that’s no easy feat! The reader gets just the right amount of information at the right time to keep the pages flying all the way up to the perfect conclusion. Both Olivia and Jordana are real women—complex and flawed, and I completely understood and believe both of their motivations.
One of the most compelling characters, Olivia’s Nana, full of sage advice and clever quips, never even appears on the page. Nana’s favorite saying, “Senseless revenge will whip its neck and snap you on the bottom,” runs through Olivia’s head several times, but she always dismisses it. She knows without a doubt that her revenge is justified and makes complete sense. Is her revenge pretty? You’ll have to read this delicious novel to decide for yourself. This is a perfect one day beach read—put it in your beach bag and thank me later.