Thursday, June 27, 2013

Young and Beautiful, Nothing Left But My Aching Soul

Published:  April 30th, 2013
By: Paul Rudnick
Scholastic Press
ISBN-13:  9780545464260

Inner beauty wants out.

When eighteen-year-old Becky Randle’s mother dies, she’s summoned from her Missouri trailer park to meet Tom Kelly, the world’s top designer. He makes her an impossible offer: He’ll create three dresses to transform Becky from a nothing special girl into the most beautiful woman who ever lived.

Becky thinks Tom is a lunatic, or that he’s producing a hidden camera show called World’s Most Gullible Poor People. But she accepts, and she’s remade as Rebecca. When Becky looks in the mirror, she sees herself – an awkward mess of split ends and cankles. But when anyone else looks at Becky, they see pure five-alarm hotness.

Soon Rebecca is on the cover of Vogue, the new Hollywood darling, and dating celebrities. Then Becky meets Prince Gregory, heir to the British throne, and everything starts to crumble. Because Rebecca aside, Becky loves him. But to love her back, Gregory would have to look past the blinding Rebecca to see the real girl inside. And Becky knows there’s not enough magic in the world.

     All Becky Randle has ever been sure of in her eighteen years was that she loved her Mom, and that she was nothing special and out of the ordinary.  Becky definitely wasn't going to be winning any beauty contests in the future.  Then when her Mom dies, she finds a phone number for Tom Kelly.  Curious, Becky calls the number and is invited to New York where she is given a startling offer: let Tom make her into the most beautiful girl in the world with three one-of-a-kind dresses.  Becky thinks that he's using her for some sort of joke, but goes along with it anyways.  Soon enough she's a famous actress, dating a secretly gay teen idol and on the cover of Vogue - she's transformed into 'Rebecca'.  Then she meets Prince Gregory, heir to the British throne, and wants to marry him more than anything.   But is it true love, for unselfish reasons?  If Becky wants to keep her beauty it has to be, because unless she's married a year after becoming Rebecca she'll be transformed into her ordinary self again.  Can Becky keep the beauty that has been given to her through mysterious, magical means or will she become ordinary once more?   And either way, can she hang onto true love once she's found it?
     I love fairy tales in any form, retold and originals are all beautiful in my opinion.  So I went into this Cinderella story a little apprehensive, as it's written by a man and the synopsis makes it sound like a Hollywood Report on William and Kate, or something like that.  But what I got was a smart, witty, emotional novel about a young woman's journey of self-discovery - with a romance thrown in for good measure, in an entirely plausible way!  Becky Randle has lived with a morbidly obese Mom for her entire life, in an East Trawley trailer park in the backwoods of Missouri.  She's been passed over and left out her entire life, because while not horrendously ugly she is unfailingly ordinary.  But Becky has a wonderful sense of humor and I especially loved the dynamic between her best friend, fellow supermarket cashier Rocher (pronounced Ro-share and named for the chocolates) and herself.  Rocher has an especially wild and colorful personality and a fiercely loyal heart that makes for a nice contrast to Becky's, sensible and somewhat cautious nature.  The interactions with Tom Kelly were interesting and I enjoyed his no-nonsense attitude.  And unlike many other readers who were confused about the slightly murky, ambiguous nature of the magic that transforms Becky I thought it was a nice touch.  Sometimes magic can just be magic and skate by unexplained.
     The romance with Prince Gregory did fall somewhat flat to me when reading.  I feel like the start of their connection was entirely superficial on Becky's side and the marriage stipulation caused her to chase him for his title.  The main reason she seems to want to marry him at first is for all of the good and charitable things she could do as a Princess.  Becky wants to make a difference and use her beauty for the good of the world.  But does she love him?  I didn't think so.  Even after the disastrous wedding when Becky becomes herself again, I felt like her feelings weren't entirely true.  I loved the way she just falls into a job as a hotel concierge with all the celebrity and royalty info she gained while beautiful making her perfect for the job.  I did like the conclusion of the book.  My favorite thing was the scene where the Queen is sizing up Becky as a possible Granddaughter-In-Law and having full conversations with her animals about her.  There is some wonderful description in this novel, but the truly witty dialogue and one-liners are definitely the shining crown atop its head.  The revelation of Becky's Mom's past and Tom's true intentions/life experiences I did feel were a little over the top.  Also, this book is definitely older YA with it's allusions to sex, drugs, and other more mature content.  Overall this book was a surprisingly great read with a huge heart and a sharp tongue, that definitely made me both laugh and cry quite a bit.  Recommended for fans of fairy tales, who would like a little more edge in their retellings.
VERDICT:  4.85/5  Stars
**No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**


  1. Oh this sounds good, you got some skills at writing reviews!!

    xoxo - Ellie

    1. Thank you Ellie! :) It was really good, and totally exceeded my expectations. Then again, I'm always a sucker for a book that can make me laight and still causes me to think/cry!


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