Title: Was She Pretty?
Author: Leanne Shapton
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Genre: Graphic Fiction
Have you ever been out with the person you’re seeing when you run into someone who they know, but seem not to want to introduce you to? When you ask later, they’ll say, “Oh, that was just a friend.” In your mind you’ll conjure up all manner of sordid details about their past association because, obviously, it was an ex. The jealousy will be overwhelming even though your partner came home with you and seems to have completely forgotten about the encounter.
That’s what this book is like.
Was She Pretty? deals with the insecurities all current boy/girlfriends feel about the ones who came before them. Even if the relationship is long gone, there’s something about the fact that the person you’re with has a past that was separate from you that’s somehow intriguing, and most of us are more than a little curious about who came first.
The book is an illustrated story with short vignettes about couples, their exes, and the details that remain to plague the current flame. One woman has an emergency at her boyfriend’s house and finds (to both her horror and delight) a half-empty box of tampons. There is the man who will never let his current girlfriend answer the phone in his apartment, and you can just tell she thinks it’s because of the ex. These tales are all short, a few lines at the most, but tell a story in just a few sentences. They are further illustrated with the author’s drawings to develop the point.
The reason I enjoyed reading Was she Pretty? is because envy or jealousy as an emotion is so raw and all pervading. You can almost sense it in every person alive and most of the time sadly enough it is because of the person you aren’t with. Who are they with? What are they doing? What is going on in their life? These questions and more do not seem to let go. That is the beauty of this book. It stays and it lingers.
Was She Pretty? is an interesting book and will take no time at all to read. If you’ve been that guy or girl, the distrustful or openly curious one who can’t just let the past be the past (and I think we all have at some point or another), it’s worth it to see someone put those feelings into words and then illustrate them so candidly.