Synopses & Reviews
“Its good to be pretty. Im really lucky.” So begins the story of thirteen-year-old Olivia, or Liv, who started winning beauty pageants at age three. Lately shes been wondering, however, if thats all she is. She gets a chance to find out when she meets a runaway named Dan and they embark on a trip to Chicago, each determined to uncover family secrets. This story of two teens from very different backgrounds making their way in a world preoccupied with physical appearance sparkles with wry humor, romance, and a revealing behind-the-scenes glimpse at the world of beauty pageants.
"Bray follows her Printz Award-winner, Going Bovine, with an only slightly less absurd premise in this out-there satire about a planeload of teen beauty queens who crash onto a (not so) deserted island. Lord of the Flies with an evening gown competition, anyone? Led by the indefatigable Miss Texas, Taylor Rene Krystal Hawkins, the 14 surviving contestants must rely on competitive moxie. Despite the large cast, Bray makes the Misses distinctive, though each is more a stand-in for a particular brand of diversity than a fully dimensional teenager (one's black, one's deaf, one's gay, one is a boy in the process of becoming a girl). Poor Miss New Mexico stands out because she has a serving tray embedded in her forehead. ('Bangs are the new black!') Halfway through the ordeal, a boat full of shirtless, reality TV pirates runs aground, allowing for some smoking hot scenes. Fun footnotes, contestant profiles, and scripted commercial breaks are interspersed. There's a lot of message, but every time the story veers toward sermonizing, Bray corrects with another crack about our media-saturated, appearance-obsessed, consumer-driven society. Ages 13 up. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"This is a sweet and gentle offering."
"Willner-Pardo deftly captures the complexity of adolescence as these resilient teens endeavor to define their identities and establish control over their lives."
"Willner-Pardo gives Olivia a realistically conflicted narrative voice . . . [Olivia's] growth is organic and genuine."
"Messages about obsession with physical beauty, the complexities of parent-child relationships, and being true to oneself abound in this self-actualization story, but Willner-Pardo delivers them poignantly."
"This coming-of-age novel will strike a resonant chord with middle school girls."
—School Library Journal
"A good choice for a junior-high book group."
From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island.
Teen beauty queens. A "Lost"-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to email. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.
13-year-old Olivia has been competing in beauty pageants since the age of three, but lately she's been feeling boxed in by her beauty. A boy who is struggling with his own appearance and a shared journey show Liv she has choices and resources—that life offers more than praise and prizes for being beautiful.
About the Author
Gina Willner-Pardo is the author of 15 books, including Jason and the Losers and Figuring Out Frances, which won the Bank Street College of Education Josette Frank Award. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area.