Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Thursday, August 18, 2011

Plot Summary:
A group of Miss Teen Dream contestants crash land on a remote island, the adults are dead, very little food, a handful of water bottles, no showers, and no room service. Unfortunately, out of the 50 states, only 13 states made it alive and all of them have very different viewpoints on life, pageants, and their own self-perception. In order to make it off the island, the girls elect a leader, Miss Texas, who is not only the epitome of beauty queen, but harbors some secrets and behaviors that will literally save them from the evil clutches of a notorious dictator, MoMo Cha Cha. Although the girls may not agree on everything, they put aside those differences and use those strengths to literally build a community with their "real" talents (other than baton twirling, singing, and dancing). More importantly, their time on the island is just what they needed to find the answers to the age old question: "Who Am I?" With the help of a government conspiracy, a group of pirates, and self-sufficiency, Beauty Queens is an adventure of a lifetime.

Critical Evaluation:
Libba Bray has not only managed to create a very real life situation, she has done it in a way that is funny, exciting, and absolutely brilliant. Clearly, Bray is clearly making a point that not only exposes the ridiculous obsession with reality television, she also makes a very poignant argument that what being a "Beauty Queen" is a lot of hard work that can literally oppress the wants and needs of the young girl being waxed and polished to perfection.  Amongst the group of contestants is a cast of characters that make this story memorable simply because they all have one thing in common, which is to be happy and loved. Readers will be laughing their ways through this story, which they will appreciate. Moreover, the statements that are presented regarding society's view on beauty and teen girls, may leave some thinking that being "beautiful" is more than it seems. Teens will definitely value the dissenter, the liar, the tranny, the deaf girl, the dunce, the wild girl, the Lesbian, and the girl with 3 nipples because they are real people with very real needs, hopes, and dreams. Just when reality television couldn't get any better, Beauty Queens will have readers turning off the television.

Information about the Author:
Libba Bray was born in Alabama had lived most of her life in Texas. As the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, which she says " Yes, I am one of those dreaded P.K.s–Preacher's Kids. Be afraid. Be very afraid. At the age of eighteen, Libbra was in accident that required thirteen surgeries and she lost her eye in the process. However, like any pirate, she went on to college and graduated. She eventually met her husband, Barry Goldblatt, who is also her literary agent, and fell madly in love with him and decided she was going to spend the rest of her life with him. However, according to her website, "My husband and I were in love but totally broke, so we eloped and got married in Italy, where he was going on a business trip. We had to pull a guy off the street to be our witness. It was incredibly romantic. Florence is still one of my favorite cities in the world." 

According to Bray, "I'm one of those people who has to write. If I don't write, I feel itchy and depressed and cranky. So everybody's glad when I write and stop complaining already." Luckily for us, her desire for writing not only created the the Gemma Doyle Trilogy (A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and Sweet Far Thing), but her novel, Going Bovine, won critical acclaim as well as the Michael L. Printz award for outstanding literature for young adults. Libra Bray has also stated that" [m]y favorite word is "redemption." I like both its meaning and the sound. My least favorite word is "maybe." "Maybe" is almost always a "no" drawn out in cruel fashion [an] [m]y three worst habits are overeating, self-doubt, and the frequent use of the "f" word."Beauty Queens is her latest novel and now resides in New York City with her husband and son.   

Teen Adventure, Teen Humor, Teen Romance

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to Beauty Queens:

Awards & Recognition: 

  • Starred Review in Booklist (5/15/11)
  • Starred Review in School Library Journal (7/1/11)

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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