Thursday, April 11, 2013
Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg
Release Date: March 1, 2013
Don't mess with a girl with a great personality!
Everybody loves Lexi. She's popular, smart, funny...but she's never been one of those girls, the pretty ones who get all the attention from guys. And on top of that, her seven-year-old sister, Mackenzie, is a terror in a tiara, and part of a pageant scene where she gets praised for her beauty (with the help of fake hair and tons of makeup).
Lexi's sick of it. She's sick of being the girl who hears about kisses instead of getting them. She's sick of being ignored by her longtime crush, Logan. She's sick of being taken for granted by her pageant-obsessed mom. And she's sick of having all her family's money wasted on a phony pursuit of perfection.
The time has come for Lexi to step out from the sidelines. Girls without great personalities aren't going to know what hit them. Because Lexi's going to play the beauty game - and she's in it to win it. (courtesy of Goodreads)
Elizabeth Eulberg is one of the top writers of light, satisfying YA contemporary fiction. Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality is her fourth book and probably the best one yet (although Prom & Prejudice is my favorite).
Lexi lives in the shadow of her beauty pageant little sister. At home and at school, Lexi is the friend, the helper, the slave - never the beauty or the star. All this changes when Lexi decides to put on a little makeup and dress in something other than jeans and a t-shirt. Boys pay attention to her, she sort of gets into the popular crowd. Can Lexi be beautiful without losing her great personality?
The makeover plot is a fairly common one, but Ms. Eulberg puts a twist on it. The pageant aspect is fascinating. I loved every chapter focusing on Mac and Mom's pageant craziness and all the details about toddlers dressing up as sexy women ten times their age. You should read the book for the pageant aspect alone.
What I loved best about the book is that it's not just a romance. If you're expecting a book with a big kiss and HEA, you'll be disappointed. Instead, Revenge of the Girl focuses on Lexi's personal growth - the idea that looks can be superficial, but a sense of self and confidence is not. Between Logan, Lexi's longtime crush, and Taylor, her date, boys are an significant part of the novel, but ultimately the book focuses on other things.
Lexi's family is more important to the plot than the boys. Lexi's mother is broken. Her obsession with pageants is only a symptom of a much larger problem. Lexi's seven year old sister is a brat (or is she?). Lexi's father tries to be helpful but disappoints in the end too. The family is dysfunctional in the extreme but felt real and pitiable.
I loved Lexi's relationship with her friend Benny who is gay and wears crazy t-shirts. In some ways he is larger than life, but in other ways he is a shy, scared teen. Lexi and Benny pushed each other to be more and both grew in this novel.
A few criticisms...Mac, Lexi's seven year old sister, didn't always sound realistic. The things she said seemed to come from someone much older. Then again, I don't know any seven year olds, so maybe they do talk like that. I also thought Lexi's friend Cam existed in the shadow of Benny. This made her seem flat and somewhat irrelevant. I get the role that she was supposed to play, but her character development was inadequate.
Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality is not a perfect book, but it is a very enjoyable one. Ms. Eulberg is steadily growing as a writer. Lexi is a likable, realistic main character struggling to grow up in an imperfect family. You'll cheer for her as she begins to find her way.