Monday, April 27, 2020

"Pretty Things"

Janelle Brown is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Watch Me Disappear, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, This Is Where We Live, and Pretty Things.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Pretty Things and reported the following:
Page 69 of Pretty Things is interesting because it introduces one of the pivotal minor characters in the book - Benny Liebling, whose high school relationship with our protagonist Nina triggers a cascade of events that culminate in the main story of Pretty Things.

Adult Nina is a con artist, who uses social media to target rich kids on Instagram, with the intention of ripping them off. She needs to pull off one last audacious heist order to pay for her mother’s exorbitant cancer treatments. This leads her to Vanessa Liebling, the older sister of her childhood love Benny — a woman who happens to be the heiress to the Liebling family fortune.

The story of Benny and teenage Nina is the emotional heart of Pretty Things, a story of love and misunderstanding and class disparity that really underpins the actions of adult Nina. And on Page 69, we meet Benny for the first time:
Benjamin—Benny—Liebling was the only other kid at the school who didn’t clearly fit into the Academy’s outdoorsy vision of the world. He’d recently moved into town from San Francisco, I heard; his family was rich; they owned some fancy mansion on the West Shore. Kids whispered that he’d been kicked out of a much more exclusive prep school, and that’s why he’d ended up here. He stood out, with his flaming orange hair and his long, articulated limbs; a pale giraffe ducking awkwardly through the doors. Like me, he arrived on campus with a foreign aura clinging to him, although in his case it was wealth, not the urban stench of Las Vegas. His t-shirts were always pressed and spotless; his sunglasses had an unmistakable Gucci logo on the earpiece that he’d failed to disguise with duct tape. Every morning he unfolded himself from the passenger seat of his mother’s gold Land Rover and dashed to the front door of the school as if he thought his speed might make him invisible. Everyone noticed anyway, because how could you not notice a six-foot-two kid with hair the color of a jack-o’-lantern?
Page 69 is in Chapter 7, which takes the reader 13 years back to the past, where they watch the story of Benny and Nina’s relationship play out. Out of this chapter, the bulk of the action of the rest of the book will launch: Nina and her grifter boyfriend Lachlan are about to arrive at Stonehaven, the vast Liebling estate on the shores of Lake Tahoe, where an unwitting Vanessa is about to have her life turned upside down. And it all comes back to this awkward boy, and a lovesick teenage girl.
Learn more about the book and author at Janelle Brown's website.

The Page 69 Test: All We Ever Wanted Was Everything.

The Page 69 Test: Watch Me Disappear.

--Marshal Zeringue