“It’s so easy to destroy. It’s cheap and lazy and small.”

I had the privilege of grabbing an eARC of SHE’S TOO PRETTY TO BURN by Wendy Heard, a YA thriller with POVs from two queer girls: Veronica, a photographer with ties to the the more criminal side of the art scene, and Mick, a swimmer dealing with a horrible home life and an anxiety that follows her everywhere – your local teenage girl getting pushed a little close to the edge (and I’m digging it). This is a startling and intense debut: fiery girls, chaotic, destructive art, and strong character arcs (which I think is most important of all). The unapologetic queer rep in this book is unmatched – Veronica and Mick’s relationship starts off within the first few chapters and the story is spent exploring their already-established romance, in a way that felt viciously realistic given their heightened circumstances. Their banter and the occasional attached *screeches* sexual tension felt extremely natural given the girls’ ages – it had me blushing, in some parts, but also giggling to myself (Veronica’s speech patterns are the Absolute Best, and a little scary).

The intensity of the girls’ relationship paired with the intensity of the plot makes SHE’S TOO PRETTY TO BURN absolutely engrossing. The story took a MUCH darker turn than I had anticipated and I devoured it like a guilty pleasure. The title can be taken at face-value but I found the story prompting a further analysis of its meaning (which I adore): what parts of ourselves scare us, thrills us, ignites us – what parts of ourselves are good for ourselves, and what parts are destructive? SHE’S TOO PRETTY TO BURN plays with a darker concept that, sometimes, they are one in the same.

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