Though her mom is a former beauty queen, Willowdean couldn’t be further from your typical pageant contestant. Much to her mother’s constant disappointment, Willowdean is a fat girl. But she doesn’t care. Willowdean is totally comfortable in her own skin. So comfortable, in fact, that she decides to enter the town’s beauty pageant regardless of other people’s opinions of her. But pageant life isn’t as simple as Willowdean believed it to be, and soon she’s battling more than just the mean whispers of other girls. Somehow, Willowdean must sort out the pieces of her jumbled life — from an unrequited love, a distant best friend, a missing aunt, and a group of new friends with pageant fever.
While I wasn’t as impressed with this book as I thought I’d be, it’s still pretty good. I liked that this book isn’t about Willowdean trying to lose weight in order to be attractive to others. Now, she still has a ton of other self-confidence issues that DO involve her weight (whether she realizes it or not), but she isn’t trying to diet herself to death. There are other good things about the book too — Willowdean’s relationship with her best friend, El, her new pageant friends, and her roller coaster love life. If you like realistic fiction stand-alones, this is a solid pick.
*YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2016
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