Beauty by Lisa Daily

Goodreads: Beauty

Summary:  Molly Davis is tired of being an awkward sophomore with extremely frizzy hair and too many pimples, so when she runs into an eccentric portrait artist at the local fair, she sadly confides that her wish is to be the most beautiful girl in the town of Miracle.  When she wakes up the next morning, she is surprisingly and inexplicably exactly that—gorgeous.  Life seems only to get better as more people pay attention to her and vie to be her friend.  She gets the boys, the clothes, and the popularity she always wanted.  But she just might be losing herself.

Review:  In the first stages of the story, Beauty begins exploring an interesting topic—how people who are physically attractive seem to be treated so much better than those who are not.  Molly goes from being the girl the popular kids laughed at to getting almost everything.  People actually talk to her.  Teachers are easier on her.  Boys fight to be the one to do nice things for her.  Waiters, baristas, and ticket sellers give her things free.  All this is really great commentary on how life can sometimes be very unfair.

But then Daily goes overboard.  Molly is not just beautiful, she is mysteriously powerful.  She literally has hordes of children chase her down the street solely because her face is so pretty.   …How does that even make sense?  Boys appear to be magically attracted to her, as if they could not ignore her if they wanted, and the other girls will do absolutely anything she says because she is simply that popular—even if she tells them to paint their knuckles with nail polish.

Because this is so unrealistic, it seems as if there must be some sort of magical explanation.  After all, there is magic at work in the book if Molly can wake up one day and suddenly be stunning.  She measures and her facial features actually moved.  Yet an explanation for Molly’s apparently magnetic aura is never offered, and this is a huge failing.  The book borders on the absurd with the caricature of popularity that it presents, but whatever magic is at work creating it is never fully integrated into the story.

Beyond this, the story is typical.  Ugly girl becomes pretty.  Newly pretty girl starts acting like a jerk.  Newly pretty girl realizes she has lost all her friends and decides to go back to being her former ugly yet pleasant self.  Unfortunately, Daily does not put enough of a spin on this plotline to make her version truly stand out.  Beauty is a decent, yet standard take on a common tale.

Published: May 10, 2012

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2 thoughts on “Beauty by Lisa Daily

  1. Kim "Bee" says:

    It always makes me sad when authors take this route. Girls complain about not being beautiful enough, when usually they’re either going the completely wrong way of trying, or simply not trying hard enough…
    I mean, there are those girls who don’t have to try, but usually it’s because they pay attention to themselves and think of it as second nature. It isn’t a bad thing to want to be beautiful, nor is it a good thing. To be punished for wanting to beautiful or being beautiful, like these books show, is just kind of overused and very hard to make a good book out of. Why not reward girls for beginning to learn to take care of themselves and appreciate themselves as they are, is all I’m trying to ask.

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    • Briana says:

      I hadn’t really thought of it this way, but you have a point. Obviously making beauty the sole objective of your life isn’t a good thing–but if I could wish away frizzy hair and pimples, I’d do it, too. Wanting to be pretty is natural. Or maybe just wanting to have non-frizzy hair without wasting half an hour to achieve it is a goal here. :p

      I guess I read the book as having a “Be happy the way you are” message, which I like–but it’s a lot easier to say that than live it, especially as a teen. And I think it’s easier to accept something like your nose, which YOU might not like but which isn’t “objectively” ugly. Acne is universally considered unattractive, and telling people to embrace it doesn’t really help.

      Still, I do books/shows where the message REALLY is to be yourself. There are so many where that SEEMS to be the message–but then the character changes. Awkwardly, the only example I can think of is High School Musical. We’re supposed to accept that the shy pianist is fine the way she is–then in the final dance number, she tears off her glasses, pulls off her hat, and lets down her hair. That always seems hypocritical to me. Apparently she wasn’t really beautiful in her glasses.

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