Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick

GorgeousLynn:  I love Paul Rudnick’s YA debut, Gorgeous (Scholastic 2013).  I love it because it is witty, hilarious and sharply observant and I love the way it deftly punctures the inflated reverence our culture offers up to beauty, fashion, and celebrity.   I love what it says about what is ultimately important in our world.  But what I ALSO love is that Paul Rudnick really gets it about clothes!   If we are honest, there aren’t too many of us who haven’t had a moment when a dress or a pair of shoes or a lovely sweater has made us feel special, wonderful, even beautiful and there is nothing wrong with that.   Like so much in life, it is the excess that is the problem. Sometimes a dress really can be magic and that is a good thing.  Admit it.  Only someone who really gets that can write:

“Let’s talk about something infinitely more serious.”

“Like what?”

“Shoes.”

See what I mean?

So – this laugh-out loud, seriously twisted fairy tale features a terrific self-deprecating Cinderella from a Missouri trailer park, Becky Randle.  On her eighteenth birthday, Becky’s sweet wonderful and morbidly obese mother dies.  While cleaning out her mother’s things, Becky finds a name and a New York City phone number on a small piece of paper tucked into a ring box.  The name, Tom Kelly, is a legendary designer who disappeared almost two decades ago.  Becky calls the number and within days finds herself in a fabulous compound with THAT Tom Kelly who tells her that he will design her three beautiful dresses that will make her the most beautiful woman in the world – just as her mother had been.  Stunned, Becky calls her best friend Rocher who shrieks, “You should F@#$%^*G say yes!”  And she does say yes and she does become the most beautiful woman in the world – at least some of the time.  The catch?  Of course, there is a catch.  Becky has to fall in love and get married before the year is out or it will all disappears.

With a cast of memorable and endearing characters, Gorgeous is funny and smart and sweet and unexpectedly thoughtful and includes a fabulous plot twist that I didn’t see coming.  And there are dresses.  Enjoy.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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