According to this book and the Teen Dream Beauty contestants, women and particularly girls tend to apologise immediately before or after voicing their opinion. For example: "I'm sorry but I just think..." or "I really don't like such-and-such, sorry but that's just my opinion". So in true girl power spirit I'm going to openly, honestly and without apology declare that I EFFIN' LOVED THIS BOOK! In every single possible way.
This is what every teenage girl should be reading. In fact, scratch that, it's what every teenager regardless of gender should be reading. This is the novel that has compiled it all, pretty much every single young adult issue has been condensed into this 380 (give or take) page book of awesomeness. I won't go shouting about it being everybody's favourite book... I'm sure that just isn't true and the mixed reviews so far have only proved my concerns about Libba Bray's humour not suiting everyone and the strange format in which the book is written also won't appeal to every single person. But, god if it isn't important!
It says everything that needs to be said. It also says what people think and don't say because they're afraid of looking bad or being laughed at or being pitied. It's not just a book about gender, feminism, slut-shaming, beauty myths, depression, family issues, homosexuality, transexuality, race, racism, disabilities and feeling inadequate. It's about all of those things combined on a desert island where a bunch of Teen Beauty contestants struggle to survive without hair straighteners, make-up and lotions.
I expected this to be another 'bitch' book. What do I mean? I mean the stories where girls turn on each other and destroy one another through carefully manipulated psychological abuse. I expected a combination of Lord of the Flies and 'Mean Girls'. This is not that book. This story is the one where girls, who in other circumstances are little more than each other's competition, come together in a time of crisis and find that just by sticking together and opening up to one another they come to understand more about themselves and how they are far more important than the labels they wear.
This is the message I've always wanted to see and I understand why some people don't think this is the reality. I've read some reviews where it seems to be the opinion that girls in these circumstances would turn on each other in true high school bitchy fashion. I disagree. Yeah, I'm going to say that (and I'm not going to say sorry either, lol). I think that, in fact, I know from experience that people act differently when in a crisis. Priorities change and you see whole new sides of people's personalities. That is what happens here. When the girls' world is turned upside down, they do what they must to survive and, through doing so, realise a great deal of important stuff too. What I love most is that while Libba Bray's message about beauty being of no real importance is obvious, she also works to show the reader how that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with a girl wanting to look nice. This is an expression of sexuality and the novel's all for that. Can a girl who wears make-up be a feminist? Of course, ridiculous question!
This is a book about survival, femininity and (kinda cheesy but I love it) being yourself. I thought it was wonderful and all the time managed to stay on the right side of that fine line between feminism and misandry. If you learn nothing else from this book, at least take away the fact that every opinion is just as important and you should never apologise for your own... on that note, I am completely, shamelessly and unapologetically (I looked it up and it is a real word!) in love with this book.