Beauty

Beauty by Lisa Daily

What’s it like to be the most beautiful girl in the world?

Molly desperately wants to be beautiful. And that’s what she tells Dharma, the mysterious portrait artist who sketches her face at the town fair just minutes after she’s humiliated in front of Hudson, the guy of her dreams. When Molly wakes up the following morning, she’s the most beautiful girl in Miracle, Ohio. Babies coo in her arms, her house fills with flowers from dozens of drooling boys, and she’s chosen to be a model for the hottest store in town. Best of all, Hudson finally falls for her.

But Molly soon discovers that beauty–and her wish–comes with a price. She’s faced with an impossible choice: Will reclaiming her true identity mean letting go of Hudson for good?(Goodreads)

The Story:

Molly Davis is just your average, no-frills girl, complete with pimples, frizzy hair and a gargantuan crush on her school’s mega hot guy, Hudson.  When Molly isn’t falling down or bumping into things she’s practically invisible–until one magical night at the local fair when an artist draws a picture of her while she makes a wish to be the most beautiful girl in town.

When Molly awakes the next day she’s pretty. She’s the gorgeous version of herself. She looks like Molly, only tweaked a bit.  And now her life is dramatically different.  Boys follow her, girls flock to be near her.  Even Hudson wants to be around her. Suddenly Molly is Miss Popular. She gets invited to the right parties, wears the clothes everyone else wants, and she’s feeling really good about herself.  The problem is that she knows it’s all related to the fair. She wonders if it will last. And worse, she wonders if anyone, especially Hudson, will like her if she goes back to being plain old Molly.

My Take:

This book had great potential to be such a fun, girly summer read.  Unfortunately for me, it fell really short.  Maybe that’s because the premise makes it sound like a YA version of Big.

And it all started out that way:  The fair. The inevitable humiliation Molly experiences. The drawing. The magic of it all. I was in, baby!  I was ready to roll with the whole Wish-I-Wish-I’d-Never-Made story.  But I had a few problems.

First, although Molly was physically different (she compared before and after photos of herself and indeed, her face had changed slightly, but enough to make a difference), the people who seemed truly under a spell where those around her.  Their reactions were exaggerated to the point of ridiculousness—boys falling all over themselves to offer her a smoothie or to make her lunch, trails of kids on bikes following her to school each day, mounds of flowers and chocolates, free clothing, colicky babies who stop crying the moment they see her face.  I mean, I think comedy is great, and this is the type of story where I’d expect it, but this was too much.  One or two of these things probably would have been fine, but every person she encounters?  No.

Then there was Molly’s mom. The woman does not see her daughter’s face for two freaking weeks. TWO WEEKS!  How is this possible?  In the two instances where Molly interacts with her in some way other than a text, Molly pulls a Mrs. Doubtfire by covering her face with food (and in another case, a face mask).

I’m sorry, but the people who read YA books are smarter than this. I mean no disrespect to the author, Ms. Daily, but this was overkill.  I love gags and whimsical characters, stories with magic,  and humor that’s a bit far-fetched, but this went above and beyond. And not in a good way.

In the end, a story that is meant to be about inner beauty is lost behind the silliness. Molly becomes beautiful and turns into somewhat of an ass.  Yes, her newfound “fame” could conceivably make her conceited, but there are masses of people in this world who manage to be beautiful inside and out. Here, the solution to Molly’s problem seems to be to go back to being the less attractive version of herself when that isn’t really the issue.  Of course, I wanted her to go back to being her old self too, but that was less related to her looks and more related to her heart.  Pretty girls can be nice too and instead of Molly acknowledging that and taking some blame for herself, she makes her new beauty the culprit.

Crush Intensity: 1.5/5 I always feel so bad when I don’t like a book, but this one didn’t do it for me.  Clearly, I’m not the last word here.  I’ve checked around for other reviews of Beauty and most people seem to like it.  You can find more info about that here.

Thank you to Penguin/Razorbill for sending me a copy of this book. Beauty is in stores now.

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4 thoughts on “Beauty

  1. The Mrs. Doubtfire reference is great! I never understand why books that make girls “prettier” always seem to have the lesson of “if you’re pretty you’re a b—- so you must go back to being ugly in order to be nice again!” or include “well the boy never noticed me until I became more attractive and now he loves me!” Well thanks for that vote of confidence, book! Sorry this one fell short for you… it does sound like it had a great premise!

    • I know. That’s what bugged me here. She could have stayed pretty or less pretty–it didn’t really make a big difference. But I wanted her to see that in the end she was the problem, not her face. Annoying!

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