I really did not expect to enjoy reading “The Beauty Queens” by Libba Bray, but I did. I found it to be both dark and hilarious, serious and wacky, and sometimes way over the top, but containing truth and heart. I wish I could have read it when I was 18 and might have learned something which would have given me a much clearer perspective on being a young woman.
I listened to the audio-book read by the author. It was very well read with amazing vocal imitations of Sarah Palin, valley girls, southern belles, etc.
Here is the synopsis: a plane with teenage beauty contestants from 50 states crashes on a remote jungle island complete with a volcano, deadly snakes, bad guys, and handsome pirates. All the adults and about 3/4 of the girls who were on the plane are killed in the crash. The surviving girls wait for rescue, but when they realize that might never happen, they begin to lay aside their competitive worries about who has the smoothest hair, softest skin, best smile, most compelling “platform” and exciting talent and begin to work together. They also learn respect for each other: feminists, handicapped individuals, trans-gender individuals, lesbians, those of different races, etc.
In short, this story is a satire which criticizes pop culture and modern American consumerism and mannerisms. It is on the short list of YA books which the young adult librarians are planning to discuss as the best of 2011. I can’t wait for the discussion.