I love summer books. I love the romance of summer. I love books about different vacation spots. I love books about road trips. I love seeing the beach on the cover of a book. To celebrate this lovely season, every Thursday I’m going to post a book and review of a summer book I’d recommend reading by the pool, at the beach, while driving across America (or whatever country you call home), in a hammock, in a cabin, on a boat, or at home as you dream of vacation. Happy Summer, everyone!
The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.
What’s a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program – or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan – or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?
Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.
I was a teenager in the ’90s, when grunge and ‘uni-sex’ looks were in style, when Sassy magazine was on the shelves, and when My So-Called Life was on TV. The third wave of feminism was going strong and there was a real emergence of strong, political, funny female artists, musicians, and writers. ‘Reality TV’ didn’t really exist yet with the exception of the Real World–a show that, at the time, really did try to examine reality while broaching topics like AIDS, virginity and race issues.
Fast forward to now and you have Kim Kardashian and Snookie, the Real Housewives, the Bachelorette, Teen Mom, Flavor of Love, Toddlers and Tiaras, ad nausem. Yes, for years-decades-women and girls have been exploited to sell the next big thing, but since the 50s I don’t think there has been a period of time in which the female race as we know it have tried to conform to the idea of beauty. To the belief that we need to be thin, beautiful, smart, funny, insert-adjective-here to be someone worthwhile.
I loved the line in the book, which I don’t have on me so I can’t quote it exactly, that basically states that the girls needed to be alone on the island to realize who they really are. In contrast to the boys from Lord of the Flies, the girls of Beauty Queens don’t turn against each other, they turn towards each other because away from society, away from the media and its societal pressures, they are able to become fully realized. Not just as women, but as human beings.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Beauty Queens–with its fake commercial breaks hawking beauty products like “Stache Off”, the beauty product that is one compound away from being a deadly explosive; to its views of a not-to-distant future in each the reality shows are even more ridiculous than they are now. I can completely see this being a movie, although it would inevitable be completely ruined by whatever Hollywood studio bought the rights.