By Paul Rudnick
Available now from Scholastic Press
I feel in love with GORGEOUS's hardcover jacket, but I might like the look of the paperback even better. (Plus, the white/black/red color scheme is ever so slightly more plot relevant than the black/red/blue color scheme.) GORGEOUS is the young adult debut of Paul Rudnick, a writer known for his plays and humor pieces in The New Yorker.
In this modern-day Cinderella story, Becky Randle is left adrift when her beloved mother dies. Then she finds a phone number in her mother's things, with instructions to call it. She reaches reclusive fashion designer Tom Kelly, who promises her three dresses that will make her the most beautiful woman in the world. The catch? She must fall in love and marry within the year.
I enjoyed Becky's identity struggle. She enjoys being confident, intimidating Rebecca, but can't quite forget that she's just nice, middle-of-the-road Becky. Being Rebecca opens her up to a world of new experiences, and the potential to use her fame for good, but everyone warns her that there will be a cost to that fame. And she's not entirely clueless that there's something sinister about the magic Kelly has worked upon her.
I do feel like GORGEOUS tried to bite off a bit too much. There isn't really room for both Becky's coming of age and her true, magical romance. I never quite bought the depth of her feelings because she didn't spend much time with the guy. I did buy her relationship with her best friend Rocher, which is one of the highlights of the book. Rocher is happy for Rebecca, and Rebecca sticks by her oldest friend. There's no question that their relationship has changed, but both girls fight for each other.
In the end, GORGEOUS was a bit uneven and the internal logic doesn't always hang together, but it is fun and positive. I loved seeing Becky's growth throughout the novel and cheered for her to get a fairytale ending, even when it looked impossible. I think GORGEOUS would definitely liven up an airplane ride - you could imagine you were traveling Rebecca-style.
Fans of fairytales might want to check out Fairy Tale Fortnight, hosted by The Book Rat.