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. (Fiction. 12-16)