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Prettiest Doll by Gina Willner-Pardo

Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Prettiest Doll

"It’s good to be pretty. I’m really lucky.” So begins the story of thirteen-year-old Olivia, or Liv, who started winning beauty pageants at age three. Lately she’s been wondering, however, if that’s all she is. She gets a chance to find out when she meets a runaway named Dan and they embark on a trip to Chicago, each determined to uncover family secrets. This story of two teens from very different backgrounds making their way in a world preoccupied with physical appearance sparkles with wry humor, romance, and a revealing behind-the-scenes glimpse at the world of beauty pageants.

Goodreads Summary

Ready for some beauty pageants?  Prettiest Doll's main character, Olivia, began her pageant career at the tender age of three.  She became immersed in the idea of being the prettiest girl in the pageant and worries about whether she is more than just a pretty face.  Her mother isn't helpful; she pushes Olivia to continue down the pageant path, pushing Olivia's concerns to the side.  When Olivia meets Dan, it seems like fate.  Dan is escaping from his own overbearing mother.  His mother wants him to take human growth hormone in the hopes that he will become taller.  Dan and Olivia have had enough of the superficiality of the world around them and decide to leave together to find out what is inside of them.

Olivia's character was a pleasant surprise.  A reader might expect her to be self-absorbed, but she has many different layers.  She does make an honest effort to think outside of her mother's narrow world and succeeds.  She displays patience, determination, and a spirit for adventure.  Dan is Olivia's male counterpart in many ways.  His desire to remain unchanged is admirable.  Why should he have to take hormones when he is happy with himself?  The book focuses on these two characters.  The reader will enjoy getting to know them very well until they feel like old friends. 

The plot itself is different.  A pageant girl teams up with a runaway with the hope that they will discover who they are together is not the typical story.  Prettiest Doll offers the reader self-discovery, adventure, romance, and drama.  The way the author focuses on the two characters makes it easier for the reader to get to know them very well and allows for complete self-discovery for the characters.  The setting is richly described and easy to picture.  Overall, this middle grade book is recommended to middle grade/teen readers!

4 Stars

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This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.


  1. Susan T. said...:

    I hate child beauty pageants, well, all pageants really!