Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

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Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012

A plane full of teen beauty contestants crash lands on a tropical island. I was expecting either drama or fluff. What I found was satire aimed at the “ideal” female, reality tv and their sponsors, and beauty contests, with a nod toward foreign relations. While a bit over the top and exaggerated, on the whole I found Beauty Queens to be amusing and entertaining.

Interspersed with the story are commercial breaks and facts pages about the contestants, the ones who survived the plane crash. As the island melodrama unfolds, we learn more about the Miss Teen Dream girls, getting a look behind the spray-on tan and fixed smiles to the real person underneath. One of the characters said it best: “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.” (p.177)

From dance routines to pirates; from survival to nefarious plots; from facades put up for protection to acknowledging who they really are, Beauty Queens gives us a glimpse behind the makeup to what teenage girls are capable of when in dire straits.

Question: If you were stranded on a tropical island and could have only one of the following with you, what would you choose?

a) Spray-on tan with moisturizer

b) a hunky pirate

c) a machete

Diane H.

Written by Diane H.

Fun fact: Corinth was my neighborhood library when I was a kid.