Bray, L. (2011). Beauty queens. New York: Scholastic Press. ISBN: 9780439895972
Annotation: When a plane full of teenaged beauty queens crashes on a deserted island, the surviving fifteen girls have to band together to survive life on the island and a plot to make sure they never get home again.
Reaction: Man, I love the way Bray tackles so many tough subjects in this book. One could probably argue that she’s taking on too many issues: gender roles, sexual orientation, race, the corporationization of the US, the entertainment industry that caters to the lowest common denominator, plus all the usual “figuring out who you are” YA novel stuff, but I think she handles it really well. I especially love the commentary on the societal expectations for women, and while it may not be subtle, it is powerful and gets to the heart of so many ridiculous expectations that people have for girls: be quiet, pretty and do what you’re told. Don’t make waves, don’t cause trouble, don’t ask too many questions, don’t be a “wild girl.” If you don’t fit in a predetermined mold, hide your true self until you do.
Gosh, I love the way she takes a fairly stereotypical group of beauty queens, exposes their secret selves and gives them the strength to be the women they are. She has built a great ensemble cast of fully realized characters each with her own voice and personality.
I listened to the audiobook, narrated by the author, and it was just so wonderful. She gave each girl a unique literal voice, and her inflection really added an extra boost of humor to the book. I love the way she portrayed each different girl, and I really think Bray’s narration made this book even more enjoyable than if I had just been reading it. Hers is the type of dialogue that works best when spoken aloud, though I’m sure reading the book is also a great experience. I just highly recommend the audiobook.
This book is totally on my Top Ten Favorites, and is, I think, one of the best books I read in 2012. Smart, funny, great characters, great dialogue, fast paced plot, utterly delightful.
A 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist in Young Adult Literature
2012 Audie Award Winner for Best Narration by the Author
2012 Audie Award Nomination for Best Teen Audiobook