It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.
This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.
This book follows around all eight girls on the list, and sometimes it goes into flashback. You might think that eight different characters in both past and present might be a little too confusing to handle, but Siobhan Vivian does a great job of making each girl's story clear and easy to follow. The girls are all very different, and they each have distinct personalities and clear storylines.
Life isn't easy for any of the girls on the pretty list, but I found myself most drawn to the "ugly" girls' stories, particularly Sarah (ugliest junior) and Danielle (ugliest freshman). Possibly because they were the two most relationship-focused stories and I am completely predictable when it comes to loving the romance stories. (And props to Siobhan Vivian for Milo...cute Asian boy FTW! You know any book with a cute Asian boy will get my intense love.) But I did find all of the girls fascinating, and this book really puts a spotlight on the way girls look at each other and talk about each other and what an impact those looks and words can have on us.
I will warn you that this book doesn't completely resolve every single one of these stories with a neat bow. Some people seem a little irritated by this, but I actually like ambiguous endings, and I love that we are left to wonder about some of the girls. I like that level of realism and I felt it actually added another layer of realism to this very real look into the lives of teen girls.
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