Heidi is perhaps a little too caring. As she waits for the train, she spies a young girl carrying an infant. She's certain the girl is homeless, which means the infant is too. Heidi keeps watching for them and eventually invites the girl to come have a meal at a local diner. This leads to Heidi inviting the girl to come stay at Heidi's home with Heidi, her husband Chris, and their daughter Zoe. Let it be known that Zoe and Chris are far from thrilled with the idea of having a homeless girl and a crying infant as new housemates.
Willow has nothing more in her life than her baby Ruby. She's seen some hard times and isn't exactly warm to the idea of moving in with strangers, but the promise of shelter from the incessant rain, meals, and help for Ruby is not to be ignored. Willow moves into the home where two of the three within the home simply do not want her or Ruby there.
Chris is constantly on the road and not thrilled that he rarely gets to see his wife and daughter anymore. When he learns Heidi has taken a liking to Willow and Ruby, he's having a hard time understanding Heidi's motives. Who invites a stranger into a home where you have a child to keep safe? Are Chris's instincts a product of his imagination and guilt that he's rarely around or is Willow dangerous?
Now here's the thing with Mary Kubica's Pretty Baby, I liked all three characters from the start. The story is told from Chris, Heidi, and Willow's perspective. Willow I wanted to hug. Heidi, well I kind of wanted to hug her too at times. Chris was probably the least likable of the three, but even then my opinion of him changed greatly.
This is a complex story and even a bit of a character study. I've been (partiallly) in Heidi's shoes, so I could get her angst. Willow is, sadly, a lot like a girl I knew in high school, so I felt a connection there. As the pair do what they feel is best for Ruby, I understood the highs and lows. As the "surprise" twists started to come into play, I really didn't find them surprising. Most of the story I'd guess early on. That never detracted from the story though. I just didn't feel the shock that some readers might encounter.
Originally released in hardcover in 2015, this is the first paperback run for Pretty Baby. Look for it starting tomorrow anywhere MIRA books are sold. Also, look for my review of her upcoming Don't You Cry closer to that novel's May release date.