Summary: The Prettiest
Eve, Sophie, and Nessa are three different girls in Ford middle-school whose lives are changed when their names appear on “The Prettiest” list posted online by someone called “LordTesla.” Sophie is the Queen Bee of middle-school who loves makeup and has a legion of female followers. However, she’s also hiding the fact that she lives on the poorer side of town and mostly shops at thrift stores and Goodwill. Sophie is distraught to be placed at the number two position on the list.
Eve is the bookworm and poetry aficionado who’s started wearing her brother’s sports jerseys to hide her changing body. Her life suddenly changes when she’s thrust into the spotlight as number one and everyone suddenly notices that she has a “body.” Her best friend, Nessa is a theater geek with a melodious voice. Nessa who’s a bigger girl, experiences a slew of emotions — indifference, annoyance, disgust at beauty standards — when she realizes her name didn’t even make the list.
The three girls band together in an unlikely friendship to find the person who made the list and make him face the consequences of his actions.
This book is fierce. The story is told from each girl’s POV and it enhances the reader’s experience as we get to see the impact of the list on each girl. I loved reading the text messages between the girls; their conversations were always fun, funny, and insightful. It was refreshing that the girls’ principal was proactive about handling the situation, thanks to the fact that she had also been harassed in middle school.
The Prettiest holds nothing back — and that’s another thing I enjoyed. It explores how young boys can easily fall into the trap of objectifying women, especially when older men they look up to take a casual view of the issue. I loved that the author included Eve’s brother Abe, and his experience and, of course, Winston. I also really like that this book doesn’t devolve into a petty “revenge” book, but instead everything is handled with heart, sensitivity, and a strong moral compass.
Finally, with three girls — and many others in the case — who are as different as night and day, the author shows that it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to love makeup and dressing up, as long as it’s for you and not just to keep up with a perceived standard of beauty. Readers see that while beauty is nice, our looks are not the most important things about us, particularly as young women.
The Prettiest is a powerful look at female objectification and sexual harassment in middle school. Every character in this book is multi-layered and readers get a well-rounded look at the main characters with a multi-POV narration. I loved Brigit Young’s debut novel, Worth a Thousand Words, but I have to say, I LOVED this even more. If you enjoy books about (unlikely) friendships, bookworm characters, and challenging society’s standards of beauty, you will enjoy this novel.
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Have you read this book or any book by Brigit Young? What are your favorite books about female friendships and middle-school sexual harassment?
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.