Thursday, July 14, 2011

Beauty Queens

When I heard Libba Bray's latest novel was about teenage beauty queens stranded on a deserted island, I hustled to get a copy. I love the idea of a female Lord of the Flies meets Lost meets Robinson Crusoe meets Drop Dead Gorgeous. I was not disappointed--this book is a delight.

Sprinkled with funny footnotes, fake commercials mocking consumerism, and surveys completed by the title characters, Bray packs a lot of material into the novel. There are layers of references that had me consulting google and appreciating the author's efforts. Beauty Queens tackles many social issues, which at times can feel similar to the platforms that pageant contestants have to choose. Each main character was fairly stereotypical, with her own issue to overcome. Those who don't have an internal battle are just lumped together (they're all named Caitlyn Ashley) and called by their respective state names.

Still, the issues that Beauty Queens confronts are important to teenagers and add to the feminist spirit of the book. It is a fascinating idea to consider what life would be like for these girls who have always been judged on their looks, when the constraints of boys, parents, and society are removed. Bray's view is optimistic; the girls bond and are able to accomplish amazing things.

While too mature for middle school students, Beauty Queens is a book that high school students (and beyond) will breeze through.

1 comment:

  1. I loved the idea that boys on a deserted island turn into savages, a la Lord of the Flies, but girls need a deserted island, away from the noise of society, to become who they truly are.


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