Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg
The Skinny: Lexi is smart, funny, sweet… the kind who has, much to her dismay, a “great personality.” She’s not one of those pretty girls, the kind who gets all the attention, the kind boys flock towards. That, sadly, is her little sister – seven year old Mackenzie, pageant princess.
What begins as a series of dares between her and her not so out of the closet BFF Benny, Lexi begins to change into one of the pretty girls, leaving her “great personality” self behind. Suddenly she finds herself the center of attention, with a boyfriend, and the approval of her mom. But when things take a turn for the worse, Lexi must come to grips with the problems in her life, figuring out that being “pretty” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
BFF?: Aside from the fact that Lexi seemed to have a huge chip on her shoulder about “being pretty” I really liked her a lot. She had this great personality (ha) that seemed to sparkle. She was funny, smart, witty, caring. She didn’t take matters sitting down and I loved her for it. What I didn’t get, though, is this obsession with being either the pretty girl or the great personality girl. Why can’t you have both? I think eventually she realizes this, but at first she dresses frumpy and has no knowledge whatsoever about makeup and hair and oh these things are so confusing! I just don’t get that. While I was never the “pretty” girl in high school, I knew how to fix my hair. I knew how to put on makeup without looking like a $.50 streetwalker. No, the boys never chased after me and I had a great personality, but I think on occasion I looked nice. You know, if I woke up in time to put forth effort (a trend that still has not changed). Wow, I just went off on a random tangent. But, here’s the thing: I would love Lexi with or without the transformation. I just don’t understand why the transformation was SO IMPORTANT or why it was pushed SO HARD by her friends.
Readability: I loved reading this! I thought the voice was fresh and fun, easy to read but not fluffy.
Crush Level: 6
Lexi has this huge HUGE crush on Logan, whose girlfriend (yeah, I know) competes in pageants. They often talk while Lexi’s sister and Logan’s girlfriend are competing, which is how Lexi develops this crush. From the second we meet Logan, however, I felt like that robot. Danger Will Robinson! Danger! Trust me, the crush level does not have to do with him. There’s another boy, Taylor, who asks Lexi out, who she starts to really like but is blinded by a) thinking he only likes her because she changed into a pretty girl and b) her ridiculous feelings for Logan. Despite his bad timing, Taylor is really great. I thought he was super sweet, funny, and pretty charming. Oh, and his last name is Riggins. Which leads me to….
While I’ve never seen FNL, the entire time I was reading about TAYLOR Riggins, I thought about TIM Riggins. And yeah… it might have made it a lot more fun.
Benny, Lexi’s friend, has this really cool collection of t-shirts from the 80s with different logos and TV shows on them. My favorite that they mentioned was a Charles in Charge shirt. What made them super funny was that Lexi had NO clue about any of them. Now that I think about it, it made me feel really old.
Dark side of Beauty Pageants
It kind of saddens me to think that the world Lexi and Mackenzie live in actually exists. Like really saddens me. Their mom was obsessed, not caring about either girl just so long as she was involved with the pageants. Their lifestyles were super unhealthy – fast food all the time – and that was okay. Mac was unhappy, miserable even, and spoiled rotten, but as long as she competed, that was okay. At times I physically hurt from the pain both girls lived in, the misery they had to deal with day in and day out because of the pageants. Do I think pageant competitions are healthy for girls? In some ways, yes. But it’s when they go too far, as they do in this book, that they become unhealthy and really just sad.
Commencement Speech: I’ve seen maybe 2 episodes of Honey Boo Boo and about 15 minutes of Dance Moms, so I feel like I’m qualified to say I’m an expert on pageant/performance shows about little kids. There were so many emotional dynamics within this book that I didn’t know where to turn. Lexi’s relationship with each of her family members was both heartbreaking and heartfelt; I loved seeing how they each evolved or devolved throughout the book. And speaking of relationships, Lexi has amazeballs friends. I absolutely LOVED how those relationships played out, from how she and Benny pushed each other out of their shells to how tight her friendship was with Cam. Just when you think it’s about to go all jealous girl cat-fight you get to see a rare glimpse of true girl friendship (that I think is missing entirely too much in YA lit). But best of all, we get to see Lexi’s transformation from ugly duckling who is not so ugly into a swan who is not so swan-like. I didn’t LOVE the ending, but thought it was totally appropriate. I think had it ended like I wanted it to, it probably would have cheapened the story. My biggest complaint with the book, and it’s not really the book as it is the thinking of teens, is the idea that you can either have a great personality or you can be beautiful. While I think Lexi finally overcomes this idea, I hate that it’s there to begin with. I enjoyed being challenged on my ideas though, and think this was a great book that was super fun to do so!