Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick

8:00 AM

Title: Gorgeous
Author: Paul Rudnick
Release Date: April 30, 2013 (hardcover)
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 336
Source: Copy provided by publisher

Overall: 3 Stars

Screamingly funny and defiant — a must-read book for the summer!

This is a book for anyone who's ever faced herself in the mirror, wondered if a new lipstick could change her life, and either read Vogue or thrown it across the room.

When eighteen-year-old Becky Randle's mother dies, she's summoned from Missouri to meet Tom Kelly, the top designer in the world. He makes her an impossible offer: He'll create three dresses to transform Becky from an ordinary girl into the world's most beautiful woman.

Becky thinks Tom is a lunatic, but she accepts and is remade as Rebecca. When Becky looks in the mirror, she sees herself — a mess of split ends and cankles. But when anyone else looks at Becky, they see five-alarm hotness.

Soon Rebecca is the darling of the fashion world, but when she meets meets Prince Gregory, heir to the British throne, everything starts to crumble. Because Rebecca aside, Becky loves him. And the idea of a prince looking past Rebecca to fall in love with the ordinary girl inside? There's not enough magic in the world.  

My Thoughts:  
If I had to sum up Paul Rudnick's Gorgeous in one word, it would be "unconventional". It reads like a satirical fairy tale that completely twists the tropes of the genre. I didn't even try to question the unraveling of the events in the book; the more I thought about it, the more it didn't make any sense. Instead of trying to understand the inexplicable, I simply rolled with it and found everything more oddly entertaining and hilarious that way.

After her mother suddenly dies of complications from diabetes, Becky calls a random phone number she finds written on a scrap piece of paper while looking through her mom's clothes to donate. To her surprise, she's offered cash and a plane ticket to New York, which she warily accepts with the intention of discovering why her mom would have the number. When she arrives in New York, another surprise awaits her there though the reclusive and very rich fashion designer Tom Kelly. It turns out Tom Kelly once knew her mother, and now he has a once in a lifetime offer for Becky: if she follows all his instructions and wears three dresses he specially makes for her, she will become the most beautiful woman who ever lived.

All too soon, the world is enamoured with supermodel and newcomer actress Rebecca Randle, but all Becky sees in the mirror is her old self. She's having a crisis of identity, not really she sure she even knows who she is anymore, but time is running out for her to decide if being loved for herself is more important than appearances. For, you see, there was a hitch to Tom Kelly's proposal. Becky must marry within the year, and hopefully it will be to Prince Gregory, or she'll lose everything she's gained as Rebecca and return to her trailer park life.

As a protagonist, Becky is not the most remarkable or memorable. There was nothing about her personality that really stood out to me, but maybe that was the point? Just like Tom Kelly is not a standard fairy godmother and Prince Gregory, while kind-hearted, isn't necessarily a heroic prince, Becky also doesn't follow your expectations of a heroine in a fairy tale.

The explanations and reasoning are kind of weak in Gorgeous, but like I mentioned earlier, I think it's the type of novel that if you question it too much, all the fun and fast-pacing is ruined. It's meant to be silly and make you laugh. With a touch of magic and a stunning red dress, Becky Randle becomes a modern-day Cinderella in Paul Rudnick's Gorgeous!

Thanks so much to Scholastic Canada for providing this review copy!

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