Heidi Wood seems to have it all going on. She’s happily married to Chris, successful dude (mergers and acquisitions), and mother to twelve-year-old, Zoe. They live in a spectacular condo in Chicago. But Mary Kubica’s novel Pretty Baby wants you to believe that Heidi’s life is precariously perched on a knife’s edge and all that it takes to set it off is Willow and her infant daughter, Ruby.
The first time I see her, she is standing at Fullerton Station on the train platform, clutching an infant in her arms….The girl is dressed in a pair of jeans, torn at the knee. Her coat is thin and nylon, an army green. She has no hood, no umbrella….The baby is quiet, stuffed inside the mother’s coat like a joey in a kangaroo pouch.
Heidi can’t get the girl and her baby off her mind. Partly it’s because she “work[s] with people who are often poverty stricken.” But there’s another, deeper reason. In any case, Heidi can’t stop thinking about the girl and when fate brings them into each other’s path again, Heidi acts. Before you can say, wtf, Heidi has moved Willow and Ruby into the condo with her family.
If I can say one thing about Pretty Baby, it’s that it’s overstuffed. So, first there’s Heidi and her fascination with this young girl and her baby, despite the fact that she has a (largely ignored) daughter at home. Then there’s Chris, who despite loving the woman he’s spent almost half his life with, finds himself wondering what the comely Cassidy Knudsen (new to his team) might wear to bed. Then there’s Willow, who tells her tale to the decidedly unpleasant Louise Flores, and it’s quite a story. Pull any one of these threads and you’d have enough for a novel, but Kubica tries very hard to weave them together and I can’t say that it was altogether successful.
Just a ‘meh’ for me.