Fiction – Southern
Released March 31, 2015
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: eGalley provided by the publisher via NetGalley
A satire of a dysfunctional Southern family (headed up by Miranda and Ray) whose oldest daughter (Bailey) is a regular on the child beauty pageant circuit, written by a writer of the TV show “Family Guy”.
As soon as I saw this book described as a “satire about child beauty pageants”, I pounced. I should say up front that I think beauty pageants, particularly child beauty pageants, are one of the more ridiculous creations around, so my thoughts on this book come from that perspective. Pretty Ugly is essentially “Best in Show” for beauty pageants. And, here are a few reasons why it’s horrifying and ridiculous, yet awesome and hilarious…
The Pageant Names
The pageant names are so off the page that I, of course, had to Google them to see if Butler pulled from real life. While I couldn’t find any exact matches, it seems Butler possibly took real pageant names and made them just a tad more ridiculous…
Baby Princess Bar-B-Q Fest, Gorgeous Belles and Beaus Pageant (there really is a Southern Belles and Beaus National Beauty Pageant!), Little Miss Sass and Sand Princess Pageant, Miles of Smiles Perfect Face Invitational, Rebel Belles Glamboree, and Sweet Ray of Sunshine Invitational.
The Amazing Quotes
Miranda (Mom) to Ray (Dad) on why she wants another baby:
“All I want to do is make princesses, Ray! I want a houseful of princesses!”
Miranda using “pageanting” as a verb:
“Pageanting takes just as much energy as swimming. More, probably, if you count the mental part.”
Miranda to Bailey:
“So…put on your eyelashes and airbrush your knees. They look a little splotchy. […] Mommy’ll be back in a minute.”
The Reasons Pageant Winners were Stripped of their Crowns
- A winner married her boyfriend, who she was “pretty sure” was the father of her baby (having an out of wedlock baby as a teenager is totally acceptable under pageant rules, but being married is not)
- A winner, along with various family members, was arrested for “felony production of crystal meth with intent to distribute”
- Allegations that a winner’s mother bribed the judges with sexual favors
Despite the fact that the premise of Pretty Ugly is completely frivolous, there is some depth to the story. The toll that Bailey’s beauty pageant circuit takes on the entire family is heartbreaking. Her parents’ marriage is in trouble, her father is overworked (paying for all that pageant paraphernalia!) and checked out (having a disastrous affair with a teenager!), her two brothers are virtually ignored, and their finances are precarious to say the least. And, the emotional impact of all the pressure Miranda puts on Bailey to perform is the most heartbreaking of all.