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Grandma weighs in
on November 9, 2012
So here I am, 70 years old, my own prettiest dolls in their mid-40s, reading a girl book, Gina Willner-Pardo's Prettiest Doll. Complete opposite to the kind of YA book I am usually drawn to, but.... I was curious about what Willner-Pardo had to say
I was drawn in easily with the opening paragraphs which make clear to the reader that Olivia is not happy with what is being thrust upon her. She recognizes the extra work and self-denial that her mother takes on for her daughter's sake (or, sez I, is it for her own sake? To give her something that makes HER special??) The one selflessly sympathetic person in Olivia's life, Uncle "Bread", has evaporated for reasons that seem plausible to Olivia in light of her mother's suggestive explanations of his departure from their home town.
I agree with a previous reviewer that the beginning is slow, but so are Olivia's musings about herself and her friends. She is not yet on a wild chase of freedom from her mother's dreams for her. She encounters Danny, the runaway boy, but that seems insignificant until she meets him again after her semi-traumatic experience with Mrs Drucker, the voice teacher. Suddenly, Olivia sees ONE THING that she CAN do to evade the pageant life.
At this point, there is action, planned by Olivia and Danny, and impulsive, relief and desperation, two youngsters trying to take responsibility for themselves in ways that are too immature to make for a safe outcome. Secrets are revealed, lies uncovered, personal responsibilities recognized. Olivia and Dan, no longer Danny, part necessarily, reluctantly, and with great hope for their futures.
A sequel would be a good thing.
Oh, and yes, this grandmother read the book with rapt attention and doesn't remember where the profanities were, but believe me, 13- and 15-year-olds today know more words and behaviors that most 50-year-olds didn't learn until they were 40...