How can anyone resist a title like Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality (Elizabeth Eulberg)? I love these long, wordy titles that promise all kinds of mischief and mayhem. Also, speaking as someone with a great personality and zero pageant crowns (though, in fairness, I’ve never been in a pageant), all it took was a quick look at the synopsis to feel like, It me.
What Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality is about:
Lexi’s life is kind of a mess. Her parents are divorced, her dreams of escaping Texas hinge entirely on her after-school job at a clothing store, and, worst of all, her mom is obsessed with her kid sister’s pageants. Obsessed. There’s no room for Lexi when seven-year-old pageant participant Mackenzie (aka Mac) is in the room.
So, Lexi decides to make room. She’s never been praised for her looks, only her personality—but there’s no reason she can’t have both. With some not-so-gentle encouragement from her friend Benny, Lexi decides to elbow her way into the spotlight and see what life is like for the Chosen Ones. But how long can she keep up her new life when her old one is falling apart around her?
My thoughts on Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality:
Lexi. Is. Awesome. By far my favorite thing about her was that she never stopped loving her family, even when she stopped liking them. She hates her sister’s pageants for a number of reasons, but when a sleazy TV show wants to film their family drama, Lexi won’t let them. She treats Mac kindly (most of the time) and helps her little sister out of a major jam. Her efforts to help her mom are largely futile, but Lexi’s still going to try, gosh darn it.
I also loved her friendship with Benny. While Lexi and Cam’s friendship didn’t get a lot of screen time, Lexi and Benny were front and center. Neither of them believes in themselves, but they believe in each other so h*cking much. They’re relentless when it comes to encouraging each other to live the lives they want. It isn’t long until having someone else believe in them translates to them believing in themselves.
And guys—LEXI DOESN’T END UP WITH A GUY. She goes through the whole mishap of liking one guy who turns out to be wrong, and screwing things up with another guy who could have been right for her, but in the end, she’s not dating anybody AND SHE’S OKAY WITH IT. The guy she screwed up with doesn’t come running back to forgive her for hurting him, which was AWESOME. And why should he come running back? You should never run back to those who’ve hurt you.
Now, in all fairness, the book was not perfect. First off, the title felt misleading—there wasn’t a whole lot of revenge. Second, and more frustratingly, the book ended with Lexi ditching her makeup and cute outfits and going back to the way she was…even though she really seemed to like wearing makeup and cute outfits. I felt genuinely cheated when she turned around and said, “Nope, I hate them.”
Too often in YA, it’s an either-or situation. Either you like fashion, or you have a great personality. Either you like makeup, or you like academics. It was so awesome to watch a YA heroine be like, “Hey, wearing cute clothes is kind of fun and spending time on myself doesn’t detract from my winning personality or sparkling wit!” Watching Lexi drop her self-care routines cold turkey and go back to a place which had made her feel really bad about herself for a long time…kinda sucked.
The book ended on a bit of a sour note for me, but I overall still really enjoyed it and would recommend it to others.
What are your thoughts on the appearance/personality dichotomy that so often appears in YA? Do you like using tropes, or do you make a serious effort to break them?