Curran, Miss Iowa 2008, tells how she became the first major pageant contestant with a disability.
Growing up in a close-knit Illinois farm family, Curran always wanted to enter beauty pageants. However, cerebral palsy caused her to limp, which caused teasing that eroded her confidence—but not for long. Curran cheerfully describes growing up with leg braces and doting grandparents as well as tough love, then traces a rambling road to competing in the Miss USA pageant, founding her Miss You Can Do It pageant for girls with disabilities, and entering nursing school. Exciting events pass with little scenery—the pageants themselves, TV appearances, and even an interview by John Hockenberry. Unfortunately, because Curran touches on people and events so quickly, some comments come off as patronizing or glib—as if all discouragement vanished easily, a wheelchair signified "a helpless invalid," or a trailer were shameful. However, these comments fade in a whirl of pageant butterflies, wardrobe malfunctions, and the challenge of walking in heels, which Curran handles with aplomb. Debunking myths about pageant participants, she praises the sisterhood she found and the hope pageants give "[her] girls," a happy ending to a tale of accomplishment.
Though Curran's account of faith and perseverance is somewhat unfocused, readers will appreciate her overarching point: "discover what makes you happy, and then act on what you've learned." (Memoir. 11-18)