Pretty Furious

­Dutton. Apr. 2024. 224p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781984816139.
Gr 9 Up–Five best friends in a small Canadian farming town plan elaborate heists and acts of subterfuge to vindicate wrongdoings that happen within their community. When a girl who gets an abortion is treated poorly by her neighbors and the local Catholic church, suddenly the grass around the church’s “memorial to the unborn” won’t grow. When one of the girls’ siblings is rejected from the volleyball team for being nonbinary, one day the team’s uniforms just fall apart. These capers and others are pulled off by the main characters through careful planning and blatant use of their status as “good girls” to get done what they believe others cannot. This novel has a promising premise, but only skims the surface of the social justice issues it attempts to tackle. There is also surprisingly little tension as the girls’ plots are planned and executed, and every escapade ties up very neatly. At the heart of the story is the quintet of main characters—their personal growth and their relationships with one another, which in moments is reminiscent of films like Now and Then, but often feels quickly sketched out between incidents. Readers may desire more to feel connected to the characters and the outcomes of their choices. The novel begins an interesting conversation on using white privilege and community status to exact revenge on behalf of suppressed individuals (who didn’t ask for it) but doesn’t explore it too deeply.
VERDICT A slice-of-life thriller with a compelling concept but underwhelming execution.

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