Eulberg, E. (2013). Revenge of the girl with the great personality. New York: Point.
Lexi has a great personality. And she’s sick of feeling invisible to the cute boys at school, even the ones who think she’s funny. It doesn’t help that her mom is obsessed with Lexi’s little sister Mackenzie’s beauty pageant career. Lexi decides to make some changes to her own appearance and things start to change when she does. The people in her life start to look at her differently, including cute boys, pretty bullies and her family. Will Lexi go back to the way she was before? What will happen when she is betrayed by someone close to her? Can Lexi get her revenge on those who have underestimated her without losing herself?
I had the distinct desire to stand up and cheer several times while reading this book. I love Lexi and her cleverness. I particularly appreciate the messiness and complexity of Lexi’s life. Eulberg doesn’t hold back in portraying shame-inducing behavior, especially of Lexi’s mom. This lends a lot of authenticity to this realistic novel. The gut-wrenching scene when Lexi realizes her mother has stolen her hard earned money was particularly brutal. Teens will certainly relate to feeling betrayed by their parents, some to the same degree, some to a lesser. Either way, Eulberg does an excellent job of capturing the powerless feeling of teenagers. I love the way Lexi wrestles with her own powerlessness, tries at different methods of building her independence, fails and succeeds.
While I find the last several chapters to have too perfectly scripted speeches from Lexi, I adore the place she has arrived in her heart. And I wish I could write the following speech onto the hearts of teenage girls across the world…or at least go back in time and write it on my own at 14:
“All I did over the last few weeks was kill myself to get accepted by you and your friends. And to be honest, I didn’t really have fun even when I was. Maybe that’s because part of me knew that I didn’t belong. And you know, Logan, I really like you.”
“You do?” He grabs me hand.
“Yeah.” I take my hand away, “But I like myself more. I’d rather be single and myself than try to fit into a mold of a person that I’m not for a guy. I know that it’s not your fault that I did this, but I haven’t been happy, and I think the only way for me to truly be happy is to be myself by myself.”
Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2013 (Vol. 81, No. 1))
Comedy yields to an affecting drama when a witty but plain girl decides to get glamorous, with unexpected results. Lexi finds herself trapped in a seriously dysfunctional family as her morbidly obese mother pushes her little sister into the child–beauty-pageant circuit. At 7, Mackenzie appears to love it, but Lexi suspects it’s her mom who’s addicted to the pageants, spending thousands every weekend despite the family’s near-poverty. Lexi works and saves diligently to fund her dream of moving to New York. She pays no attention to boys despite a secret crush on Logan, the boyfriend of a teen-pageant beauty. Finally, her two best friends goad her into dolling up for school with the help of a pageant hairstylist and makeup artist, resulting in her immediate rise in popularity, and top dog Taylor, Logan’s best friend, asks her out on a date. Popularity proves double-edged; Lexi has difficulty with both her longtime friends and her feelings for Taylor and Logan. Eulberg writes what starts as a witty, fast-moving comedy and morphs it into an affecting drama, drawing cogent parallels between the pageant circuit and Lexi’s Dallas high school. In the final pages the author drives her message home with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, an indulgence that is easily overlooked. Excellent comedy and drama.
Debbie Carton (Booklist)
Texan high-school junior Lexi is bright, capable, and funny. She is popular, but not beautiful like her seven-year-old sister Mackenzie, whose beauty pageant activities dictate the lives of Lexi and their single mother, who is obsessed with Mac s success. Lexi nurses an unrequited crush on classmate Logan and a desire to free Mackenzie from the pressure of the pageant circuit. When Lexi decides to glam herself up, she discovers firsthand that the world does indeed favor the beautiful. She also learns what s important to her, and it s not the shiny exterior that wins her male and maternal attention. Lexi s outrageous rebellion at a pageant will have readers both gasping and cheering. Although didactic, it s a fun read and marvelous revenge fantasy sure to engage most young women. Eulberg has an ear for teen dialogue and creates multidimensional characters that both embrace and defy stereotypes. Parents are flawed but human, and the only true villains are pageant administrators. Lexi’s romances resolve in the most positive ways possible, with kindness and self-respect. It may be a little too good to be true but it sure is satisfying.
Use in Library
This book would make a perfect book club discussion. I’d probably bring in some excerpts from writings of the excellent Caitlin Moran.