A Fox News journalist and talk show host sets out to prove that she is not “an empty St. John suit in five-inch stiletto heels.”
The child of devout Christians, Minnesota native Carlson’s first love was music. She began playing violin at age 6 and quickly revealed that she was not only a prodigy, but also a little girl who thrived on pleasing audiences. Working with top teachers, she developed her art over the years. But by 16, Carlson began “chafing at [the] rigid, structured life” of a concert violinist–in-training and temporarily put music aside. At the urging of her mother, the high achiever set her sights on winning the Miss T.E.E.N. pageant, where she was first runner-up. College life at Stanford became yet another quest for perfection that led Carlson to admit it was “not attainable” after she earned a C in one class. At the end of her junior year and again at the urging of her mother, Carlson entered the 1989 Miss America pageant, which she would go on to win thanks to a brilliant violin performance. Dubbed the “smart Miss America,” Carlson struggled with pageant stereotypes as well as public perceptions of who she was. Being in the media spotlight every day during her reign, however, also helped her decide on a career in broadcast journalism. Yet success did not come easily. Sexual harassment dogged her, and many expressed skepticism about her abilities due to her pageant past. Even after she rose to national prominence, first as a CBS news broadcaster and then as a Fox talk show host, Carlson continued—and continues—to be labeled as “dumb or a bimbo.” Her history clearly demonstrates that she is neither. However, Carlson’s overly earnest tone, combined with her desire to show her Minnesota “niceness…in action,” as well as the existence of “abundant brain cells,” dampens the book’s impact.
For the author’s fans.