Bray, Libba. 2011. BEAUTY QUEENS. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 9780439895972 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]
Libba Bray’s latest novel offers another humorous look at teen relationships and angst, this time in the form of beauty pageant queens. When their plane crashes on a supposedly deserted island, the surviving Miss Teen Dream contestants struggle to acquire basic necessities while maintaining their pageant practice regime. Using the tools available, the teens gather rainwater with an evening gown, spear fish with straightening irons, and attempt to signal passing planes and ships with discarded sequins. As days turn into weeks and rescue seems unlikely, the girls gradually leave their pageant world and its expectations behind to discover what they really want in life.
Bray’s hilarious, and often sarcastic, look at beauty invites readers to look beyond the surface to the true heart of teens. Readers will enjoy the girls’ superficial pageant platforms as much as their more sincere journeys of self-discovery. Between rescuing sexy reality show pirates and escaping from an evil corporation smuggling illegal weapons, the resourceful Miss Teen Dreamers have their hands full, but they rise to the challenge. In the words of Miss Texas Taylor Rene Krystal Hawkins, “This is an opportunity for growth and the establishment of your personal brand. Everybody loves a survivor!”
This title would make an excellent addition to a study about satire. Teens could compare examples from the girls’ interview answers to their more personal conversations later on the island.
Other books for teens featuring satire:
Benway, Robin. AUDREY, WAIT. ISBN 9781595141910
Headley, Justina Chen. NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH (AND A FEW WHITE LIES). ISBN 9781428725270
Nelson, Blake. DESTROY ALL CARS. ISBN 9780545104746
By Kimberly C. Kinnaird