Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
pgs. 400, 3 stars
ABOUT THE BOOK: In Beauty Queens, a group of girls who are competing for a beauty pageant end up in a terrible plane crash, which leaves them stranded on a desert island. With all of the adults killed in the crash (and some of the girls), these teens must put their differences aside and band together if they want to survive.
The story is told from the perspective of each girl (alternating every chapter). Each has a unique voice and personality. The novel viciously sneers at how women are subjected through advertising and the media, and all the while the girls are participating in a pageant for reasons like undercover reporting, desperate need for a scholarship, trying futilely to please a parent, or looking for a ticket out of their hometown.
Despite its playfulness, this novel is satirical not silly. Bray’s criticism of our airbrushed culture is severe and rings very true. Re quotes:
Why do girls always feel like they have to apologize for giving an opinion or taking up space in the world? Have you ever noticed that?” Nicole asked. “You go on websites and some girl leaves a post and if it’s longer than three sentences or she’s expressing her thoughts about some topic, she usually ends with, ‘Sorry for the rant’ or ‘That may be dumb, but that’s what I think.’
Maybe girls need an island to find themselves. Maybe they need a place where no one’s watching them so they can be who they really are.”
“Weren’t you wearing a purity ring when we got here? Aren’t you supposed to be saving yourself?” Shanti asked.
“Yeah,” Mary Lou answered. “And then I thought, for what? You save leftovers. My sex is not a leftover, and it is not a Christmas present.”
I did think some of Beauty Queens was a bit overkill like the commercials and chapters from “The Corporation.” But Libba Bray touches on some very serious issues for girls and women of all races. I wish I had read this in high school. I feel like it would have spoken to me a lot more then. Now for the funnnn times…..
ABOUT THE OUTFIT: Poor, poor, pretty Miss Teen Dream. Stranded on an island with nothing to wear but an evening gown. At least it’s a pretty mint color that matches the tropical waters, even if part of it is missing (perhaps torn off in the crash?).
You salvaged this bright red bikini from the wreckage hoping it would draw the attention of a passing plane (plus red and mint are like all the rage!), but all you got was a lousy “pirate” ship. At least you also saved some pink gloss and pink sparkle nail polish, so that you’re ready when the brainless-but-very-cute boys pretend to come to your rescue.
Spray some product in your bleached hair to get that beachy wave look, which you could do by just getting in the water, but heaven forbid you get your hair wet! A loose half braid will keep your hair out of your eyes while you’re practicing your routine and trying to figure out who will stab you in the back next (literally).
Since all you had was tanning oil on the plane (no one thought they would crash on a deserted island), this hat was a lucky find. It will keep the sun off your face and neck, because like premature aging, ew.
But you aren’t just a pretty face. You have dreams beyond Miss Teen Dream, you want to be a journalist, an entrepreneur, an artist, and the list goes on. Society puts you in a pretty-but-dumb category, when really you’re pretty-and-smart-and-resourceful. Your journal is your outlet. Not to mention, it’s island themed!!