Lexi is used to being the unnoticed one. Her sister, Mackenzie, is part of the pageant set, so Lexi’s world and weekends pretty much revolve around Mac. The plus side is that her crush, Logan, usually goes to the shows; the downside is he’s there to cheer on his girlfriend. Then, a bet with one of her best friends pushes Lexi from wallflower to noticed, and at first, she’s happy about it. But the family dynamic has shifted, she’s worried about her mother spending money she doesn’t have and she’s not sure that she’s liking what she’s turned into.
The set-up of this book, from the beauty pageant world to the overweight, unhappy mother and the blossoming girl are all ripe with possibility. Unfortunately, the potential was not fulfilled.
The fact that Lexi’s sister gets all of the attention, the mom uses food and pageants as a substitute for happiness; I get that. I can also easily understand Lexi getting marginalized because she’s not the focus, not the “pretty” one. I even understand her mixed feelings about making “improvements” to herself with makeup, a new hairstyle and clothing and whether that makes her no better than the pageant people. These are all great, realistic issues.
So what kept me from connecting to this book? First of all, I don’t think that Lexi held herself to the same standards that she held others. She has this huge crush on Logan, and the adjective “hottest” is used. She thinks he’s amazing and sweet, too, but she is obviously attracted to him. And when she has her makeover? She’s later angry that the guys who now noticed her had never liked her before. The narrative made it sound like she really didn’t care about how she looked, so – duh – of course if the makeover makes you look different, people are going to notice.
Her pageant-going sister, Mackenzie, is seven years old. As Lexi starts to take more care in her appearance, Mac gets very upset. This is when I first noticed that Mac spoke like she was 25, not seven. She had observations that a kid that age, especially one that’s self-centered, just wouldn’t have. They seemed very mature for a child.
Also, about Logan. He’s just being himself, then, as soon as she stops liking him, she smells cigarettes and beer on his breath, something we never saw before. It seemed like overkill, a way to get the reader to agree with why Lexi ends her super long-standing crush.
I am all about girl power, but I am wary of books where characters say things like “I have never done this before because I am usually so shy…” or “I usually keep my mouth shut, but now I have all of this confidence…” Yes, I think YA is about changes and growing up; but sometimes these revelations are more of a plot device than realistic. I felt like Lexi honestly did improve when she cared more about her appearance; there is nothing wrong with that. Then she negated it all – she couldn’t see that by having others notice her, maybe wasn’t a totally bad thing. It’s easy to get someone’s attention, harder to keep it. She still would have had to use her personality for people to stay interested, right?
Truly, real live girls should not base their self-esteem on what others think or how a person looks, but there is a happy medium there, one where a girl can put on mascara and wear clothes that look good on her without feeling like she’s sold her soul to Sephora or Forever 21.
The Bottom Line: I really wanted to like this book. Unfortunately, it seems more cautionary tale than good story, and it suffers because of it.
Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg was published March 1, 2013 by Point. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review. Big thanks to NetGalley, the Publisher and the Author.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction Contemporary Romance
Ages: 13 and up
You Might Want to Know: Mild profanity