Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray…starts out funny, ends up funny. And there’s some action, make-overs, and cute pirate boys in between.
The novel opens with the following message: “This story is brought to you by The Corporation: Because Your Life Can Always Be Better™. We at The Corporation would like you to enjoy this story, but please be vigilant while reading. If you should happen to notice anything suspicious in the coming pages, do alert the proper authorities.”
The 50 Miss Teen Dream contestants board a plane, bedazzled and excited for the upcoming pageant. But their sparkle dreams become a sand-filled nightmare as the plane crash-lands on a seemingly deserted tropical island. Only 13 girls survive the plane crash. But can they survive a life without make-up, hair products, and tanning lotion? The girls band together under the leadership of Taylor, a rifle-shooting, God-fearing blonde from Texas. They rehearse their dance routine, practice answering interview questions, and build a catapult to boot.
In the midst of all this ridiculousness are some pretty real (if sligthly exteme) characters.
As mentioned above, there’s Taylor, Miss Teen Dream Texas. Ever since she was six years old, she’s wanted to win Miss Teen Dream. She lives and breathes the pageant, and her idol is the most famous Miss Teen Dream ever: Ladybird Hope. This year is Taylor’s last year to compete. And she will not let anything get in her way. But when Taylor stumbles on an Island secret, her dreams collapse, and she goes…a bit nuts. Or more nuts than normal.
Then there’s Adina, the sarcastic, witty, feminist and Miss Teen Dream New Hampshire. She joined the pageant hoping to make it to the Top 5, where she would reveal herself to be a feminist insurgent. She’d soliloquize about the horrible things that the Miss Teen Dream pageant represents, and then right a fabulous investigative journalism piece for her high school newspaper, or maybe the New York Times. Adina’s never really had friends before, though. This vacation from hell may just sweeten her bitter views on pretty girls.
Tiara, Miss Teen Dream Alabama, is what I imagine the kids in Toddlers and Tiaras will turn out like: she’s not qualified for anything but the pageant world. Such as. She’s a blond, blue-eyed bombshell who’s parents have controlled her entire life, claiming they did it to make her happy. Tiara isn’t sure that pageants make her happy anymore.
My favorite character was Mary Lou, Miss Teen Dream Nebraska. A country girl with a wild heart, she’s struggled her whole life to be sweet and innocent. But now she’s tired of it. She develops the most throughout the book, and is to me is the most “relatable” character.
While I loved this book overall, there were some parts that were just too ridiculous for me. The side plot featuring crazy dictator MoMO B. ChaCha or the Republic of ChaCha was too much. His love of Elvis and his stuffed animal General Good Times didn’t add anything, and slowed the pacing down.
If you liked Lost and enjoy watching Miss America just so you can make fun of the contestants but also secretly envy their beautiful dresses and like, super awesome hair, you should read Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.
Quotes I Loved:
Mary Lou picked up a dried frond and added it to the meager pile in her arms. “I don’t know, maybe it’s a Midwestern thing, but where I’m from, you’re not supposed to brag about yourself. That’s what my mom says. She says you should wait for people to recognize your good qualities. And then you should say, like, ‘Oh, no. I’m not really that great at whatever-it-is. I’m just okay.’ And then they’ll say, ‘No, really. You’re great.’ And you say, ‘I’m really not, but thanks anyway for saying so.’ And they’ll say, ‘Yes, you are. You so are!’ And you say, ‘Gee, do you really think so?’ And they’ll say, ‘Totally!’ And then people think you’re good at whatever it is you’re good at, but they don’t think you’re braggy about it ’cause that makes you seem like a real tool. Plus, it’s unladylike.”
Mary Lou liked Adina. She liked her directness. In school, they would tell you that life wouldn’t come to you; you had to go out and make it your own. But when it came to love, the message for girls seemed to be this: Don’t. Don’t go after what you want. Wait. Wait to be chosen, as if only in the eye of another could one truly find value. The message was confusing and infuriating. It was a shell game with no actual pea under the rapidly moving cups.
He said he liked the wildness in her, but I don’t think he really did. I think he was sort of threatened by it. And she wanted so much to make him happy that she forgot how to make herself happy.”
These were the moments that kept you going, Jennifer thought. When you looked up to the sky and cried “Why?” sometimes the sky shrugged. Yet other times it answered with the warm assurance of linked hands. “Sorry,” it whispered on the wind. “Sorry for all the pain and loneliness and disappointment. But there is this, too.” It was enough.
“You’re perfect just the way you are” is what your guidance counselor says. And she’s an alcoholic.
Play the A Tale of Two Cities head-lopping game, available as a Corporation Phone app. Void where prohibited in states where the school board has banned A Tale of Two Cities because Charles Dickens is clearly a pornographic
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