In honour of the fact that Canada finally decided to give us some proper summer weather (as of this writing at least. Now that I’ve said that, it’ll probably snow tomorrow), I’m changing gear entirely from last week and recommending a fluffy, fun, summer read. Now one thing to understand about me is that when I say “fluffy” I don’t mean it in a dismissive or derogatory way. Some of my most favourite books are not what you’d call ‘literary’ by any standard. When I say fluffy, what I mean is “you probably aren’t going to cry buckets of tears over a chicken, or feel a really weird ache in your chest at the thought of open water stretching ahead of you for miles, but you’re probably going to laugh your face off for hours and come out the other side feeling like a person who can do anything.” It’s still book-magic it’s just another *kind* of book-magic. So yeah, about the only thing that Beauty Queens by Libba Bray has in common with last week’s book is that there are pirates. In this case, not the stabby, death, death kind, but the Russell-Brand-hooked-up-with-several-late-90’s-boy-bands-and-hit-the-open-seas kind.
No, I’m not making this stuff up. This book is all kinds of whackadoodle ridiculousness and it’s AWESOME. So hold onto your bums.
Basically the plot is this: the contestants of the Miss Teen Dream Pageant (one girl for every US state, naturally) are heading to the televised finale when their plane crashes on a deserted island. A whole lot of bat-shit hilarity peppered with, you know, self-discovery and whatnot, ensues. I’m trying to make a list of some of the stuff that goes down, but it’s hard to do without getting too spoiler-y, plus the list is extensive and includes parody characters of Kim Jong Il and Sarah Palin. I’m just saying.
Suffice it to say, this book is laugh out loud funny. But it’s more than that, too. Beneath all the cray there is a serious message of self-acceptance, friendship, diversity and girl-power. The social commentary, which covers everything from consumerism, to racism, to LGBT rights, to the way women are viewed by society, is sly, smart and, as stated at least three times already, hilarious. Plus, Libba Bray drops some truth bombs that will have any person who identifies as female fist pumping and howling YEEEEEESSSSSSSS aggressively into the heavens.
If the above isn’t enough to sway you, then the cast of characters should. There is a girl of pretty much every imaginable description in here, from Adina (Miss New Hampshire), the snarky, revolutionary, Petra (Miss Rhode Island) who has a deep complicated secret that I won’t give away because reasons, fierce but clueless lesbian Jennifer (Miss Michigan), hearing impaired Sosie (Miss Illinois), Toddlers & Tiaras alumn, Tiara (obviously), girl-gone-feral Taylor, not-so-token girls-of-colour Shanti and Nicole “cursed” Mary Lou, and yup, I just listed half the female cast but seriously they are all amazing and I LOVE THEM. And a mention needs to be given to the male characters who are just as interesting even while they take a (necessary) back seat to the ladies. Somehow Libba manages to cram all those people in here and it never seems forced, or silly or unrealistic. These girls just are what they are, and what they are is AWESOME.
This book is pretty much the perfect thing to tote along on your next cottage weekend/ pool date/ picnic/ afternoon of sitting on your balcony with a cocktail or cup of tea/ whatever. You will laugh, you will root for EVERYONE, and you’ll just feel good about things when you’re all done and free to go back and hi-lite all your favourite passages to re-read at will. Get this book for a girl in your life. Better yet, get this book for a *boy* in your life. Who doesn’t need a little laughter and empowerment, right? Right.