I was so excited to get Elizabeth Eulberg's new book, Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality. I was really hoping this wasn't going to turn into a Stockard Channing-esque Girl Most Likely To scenario. I loved EE's other books, Prom and Prejudice, The Lonely Hearts Club and, the most recent, Take a Bow, which I reviewed last year when it came out. I loved Take a Bow. It was actually one of my favorite books of 2012.
So you can imagine my excitement when I opened up my Amazon box to find the new book inside. I could not contain myself and had to start reading right away, or soon as I finished Pure by JLA.
On a side note, the Amazon boxes are coming much less frequently now. Where are all my books? I guess I'll just have to order more.
Anyway, I kind of felt I could relate to the title. While I always had a lot of friends around me, I was never the smartest one, the prettiest one, the thinnest one, the most talented one. I was always sort of average and invisible. At least, that's how I always felt, but if I did stand out, it was never in a positive light.
For example, in 8th grade music class, our teacher was going to show us a film about some classical story. I think it might have been Scheherazade, but I thought I had heard her mumbling something about having the wrong film. Me, always eager to be of use, got up in the middle of class, grabbed what I thought was the film she wanted and took it over to her. She basically looked at me like I had two heads and was wondering what the heck I was doing. My classmates were also asking me the same question. It was pretty mortifying. I was always doing stupid stuff as I always marched to the beat of the music in my head. Apparently, though, no one else can hear it. 'Nuff said. Back to the story.
So, I'm relating to the title and figuring this was going to be a romantic read where plain Jane gets the hot guy because he can see beyond her physical appearance to the beautiful soul beneath and they will live happily ever after. So not what this book is about.
To me, this was a story about obsession and the dysfunction that can occur in pursuit of that obsession. Sure, there's romance, but it takes a backseat to the family drama and how Lexi deals with it.
Let's meet Lexi. Lexi is a complex individual. She has a whole subscription of issues. While she is not unattractive, she does not take any care for her personal appearance choosing to wear baggy clothes and her hair in a pony tail. She has not taken an interest in how she looks since her mother told her when she was younger that she wasn't pretty.
"Sweetie, pageants are for girls like your sister. You see how pretty those girls are. You'd be much better off concentrating on something your good at, like telling jokes. Everybody thinks you're so funny. You've got a great personalty, Lex. There's no need for you to try be pretty. You've got my genes, so no decent pageant gown would fit over your hips."
Lexi's mom is a pageant mom, but the worst kind of pageant mom. Lexi's parents got divorced and her mom felt empty. She is using the pageant circuit as a way to fill the hole in her life. The problem is her family doesn't have much money and the pageants are expensive and a drain on the family budget they don't need. Every time Lexi tries to bring it up, her mother won't even talk about it. She chooses to look at life through rose colored glasses or living life as if on stage. She always has her pageant smile in place and life is wonderful.
Mackenzie is Lexi's 7 year old sister, the pageant queen, or rather the tiara toting tiny terror. They all live in Mackenzie's world and Mac is a 7 year old diva, hell to be around when she's throwing a tantrum. Nothing can interfere with Lexi's mom's pursuit of a crown for Mackenzie and the prize money. The only trouble is, Mac never wins big. She never wins enough to even cover the entrance fees.
And Lexi is only wanted by her mother and sister in as much as she can be useful to them. She is Mac's seamstress and gopher and anything else they need.
The only bright spot in all this pageantry madness is Logan. He is one of the handsome, popular boys, he's on the football team and he's dating Alyssa, the reigning queen of the pageant circuit. And he happens to be a really nice guy, so, naturally Lexi has a crush on him, but how can she compete?
She is not one of the popular kids and only has two real friends, Bennie, a teddy bear of a guy and Cam, a little spit fire. Lexi is trying to get Bennie to take a chance and put himself out there. He has always been picked on because of his size and he has come out of the closet, but not to his family. He wants Lexi to take more interest in her looks convinced she would find romance herself. So, they start to negotiate. Bennie will talk to his crush if Lexi wears a dress to school and some make-up. Lexi agrees, but Bennie has to ask him for coffee and such. They both keep upping the stakes.
Lexi transforms herself into an A crowd clone on a dare, but finds that she really does feel better about herself. She starts dating Taylor, who is also the hottest guy in school, but she still has Logan on the mind and she can't figure out if Taylor likes her for her personality or if he only became interested once she made her transformation. And then she's not sure how she feels about him either.
Things seem to be looking up for Lexi, but at what cost? Is it better to have people like you for how you look or what you're like? Does Lexi get the boy of her dreams or the boy that she needs.
I did really like the book, couldn't put it down in fact, and was up until 3am again to finish it. It only took three or four days to read. But I will warn you, if you're looking for a lighthearted romantic romp this isn't it. I do look forward to seeing what Ms. Eulberg will come up with next.
Book Description (From Amazon):
Publication Date: March 1, 2013