Lexi knows she is smart and funny–even if she might not be quite as smart as her friend Cam or quite as funny as her friend Benny. Cam and Benny keep telling Lexi she isn’t bad looking, but whatever that’s what friends say. At the end of the day Lexi has a Great personality with a capital “G” making her the witty girl everyone likes.
Which is fine.
It’s not like there’s room for another beauty in her family anyway. Not when her mother channels all of their energy and time (and more of their money than they can spare) into baby sister Mackenzie’s beauty pageant competitions. Mac is only seven and she’s already spoiled and bratty, she already wears false eyelashes and needs butt glue for the bathing suit portion of each pageant.
Seriously, Lexi has enough going on without wasting even more time making herself pretty.
The only problem is Lexi is tired of being that girl. The one all the guys talk to but no one asks out–the one her long time crush Logan considers a really great friend and nothing else.
When an opportunity comes to get Benny out of his own shell and talking to a real live boy he likes, Lexi reluctantly takes it even though she has to wear actual makeup (lip gloss doesn’t count), nice clothes (no more too-big t-shirts), and style her hair (hairspray: not for sissies).
Turns out a change in appearance can do a lot to improve a girl’s social status. But family problems and new friends (and crushes) force Lexi to ask some tough questions about herself and do some things that even a Great personality won’t make easy in Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality (2013) by Elizabeth Eulberg.
At a mere 272 pages, Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality has a lot going on. Eulberg touches on matters including divorce, family dynamics, beauty pageant culture (of course), even popularity and bullying. Lexi is a smart, funny girl but she is also fiercely independent and loyal almost to a fault. She is an aspiring fashion designer with dreams of leaving Texas behind for the bright lights of New York City.
There are some terrible moments for Lexi throughout the story as readers learn why Lexi decided it was easier to try to be funny than pretty. The pageant issue for Lexi’s family also comes to a head with painful results for everyone involved as Eulberg, through Lexi, asks the tough questions about what it means to parade children’ around a stage in pageantry wear. The issue is generally balanced though by the end Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality does get a bit preachy about pageant culture–not to say Lexi’s feelings aren’t justified, after everything that happens they totally are–to the point of being a bit over the top, much like pageants themselves.
But again, this is a short read. While Eulberg touches on a variety of things, nothing is quite finished by the end of the novel as Lexi is still dealing with a very broken, damaged family and the aftermath of some of her choices throughout the narrative. There is no doubt Lexi (and even Mackenzie) will pick themselves up and start again (and I love the choice Lexi makes at the end to try and do just that) but it would have been nice to see just a bit more of that in the actual story. Similarly, Cam and Benny are strong friends and had the potential to be well-rounded characters had there been more room in the book for them to have complete stories. (Much like aspects of Lexi’s life, both Cam and Benny feature in the story for key reasons but the threads are ultimately left dangling–though again with certainty that things will work out because these characters deserve nothing less.)
As always Eulberg’s writing is funny and fresh from her clever chapter titles to Lexi’s insightful observations about both pageant culture and high school life. Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality is a great read for anyone looking for a few laughs and a lot of heart with just a touch of Texas to taste.
Possible Pairings: The Sweetheart of Prosper County by Jill S. Alexander, Nothing by Annie Barrows, Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo, North of Beautiful by Justina Chen, Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti, Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu, Miss Smithers by Susan Juby, In Real Life by Jessica Love, Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo, Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales, A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell, Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee, Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff