Khanh the Killjoy

Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality - Elizabeth Eulberg
“So you’re cool that he only showed interest in you once you got all glam?”
“Yes!” Benny and I say in unison.

The book's title is rather misleading, for one, there's no "revenge." For another, the sorta-but-not-really-"revenge" of the "girl with the great personality" is to become hot.


I get it. This is an YA book, and in the scheme of adolescent thinking, beauty is everything. I'm trying not to offend any high schoolers here, but generally, the teenaged mind seeks the most simple explanation, and in this book, the solution for lack of popularity with the boys, for not having your parents' attention, for lack of a boyfriend, is in a person's looks, or lack thereof.

Again, this is just my own experience, but in my high school, nobody really cared about dating or getting a guy or becoming hot, which is why I found it so hard to connect to the main character from the way I felt as a teen. The teenaged years are never good years, I think it's the same across the board. Upon reflection, the adult version of us will realize that it takes more than good looks to win a guy, and even the most beautiful person can be so tremendously alone, seeking for love in all the wrong places. Happily married supermodels are quite rare, it seems.

I was an socially awkward teen who didn't know how to talk to people. I was gangly, awkward, flat-chested, and never once in my high school life did I feel like I was a failure at life because I couldn't get a boy. Throughout high school, I didn't have a single date. I never got asked to a single dance. And I never thought the problem was because I wasn't hot or pretty enough.

I could barely string together two words in public (and look at me now!). I didn't have a great personality, because I was kind of the depressed angry sanctimonious little snits once you got around to talking to me, and I realized that. I had more to worry about than how I looked, because, like the sanctimonious little snit I was, I was too busy worrying about the existential crisis of life (true story, I carried around Sartre like the fucking Bible).

So forgive me if, from my own experience, I found the main character rather hard to relate to. I know that this is an YA novel, but I want the situation and the character to be framed in a way that I could understand the character, even if I couldn't relate to her. This book didn't do that for me.

The kind of "become hot, get a boyfriend!" message is kind of a shallow one. Because this is a growing-up type of book, the main character overcomes, but it's still a really, really shallow message, made furthermore by the complete lack of character transformation. The main character likes the fact that she's hot and she's got boys looking at her BECAUSE she's hot in one moment, only to throw a hissy fit that she feels like she's only seen for her looks and not her personality in the next 5 minutes.

It's contradictory, it's hypocritical. This book has:

- A caricature of a pageant family. Think Honey Boo Boo, complete with the grossly obese, obsessed mom living vicariously through her youngest daughter's success in pageantry

- A shallow main character without the "great personality" in the first place, as far as I can see

- Fat AND thin shaming. Her mother is shamed for stress-eating and becoming obese. A thin, beautiful Mean Girl is accused of having an eating disorder.

- A very shallow portrayal of beauty. Those who are beautiful must be shallow, those who aren't beautiful must be worth more in character

- A love triangle that pissed me off more than your average love triangles

The Summary:

Most trouble usually starts with a boy. But he’s not just any boy. No, he’s possibly the most amazing, hottest, and sweetest boy ever known to teenage kind.

Lexi is a cool girl. She's got a lot on her plate, like an overbearing pageant mom, and an unbearably bratty 7-year old baby sister Mac, the competitor in said pageants. Mac is the pretty one. Lexi has always been the girl with the "great personality." And it kind of sucks.

When a guy uses great personality to describe a girl, it’s the polite way of saying fat and ugly.

Except she's not fat. She's not ugly. She just can't get the boy of her dreams, Logan to notice her. Ok, the other part of why she can't have Logan may be due to the fact that Logan is the happy boyfriend of the school beauty queen.

But Lexi's fed up with being ignored.

I know that once I leave high school and go to college, it’ll be different. There’s got to be someone out there who’s willing to give a girl with a great personality a shot.
But for now, I have to bide my time and wait for the moment when the Great Girls inherit the earth.

But she'd fed up with biding her time. She wants her future now. She has a gay friend named Benny who's pretty sick of being ignored by the guy of his dreams, too. They make a plan, change themselves, change their lives.

A makeover and a dress? There is a very good chance no one will even recognize me on Monday.
Including myself.

It works. The only problem is that it works too well, and instead of attracting the boy of her dreams (who has a girlfriend), she attracts the attention of Taylor, the school football star, instead.

Is Taylor in love with the person Lexi is underneath, or does he only see her newly-improved appearance? Will Lexi stop thinking of one guy while she's with another?

“I should be jumping for joy that I’m with somebody as amazing as Taylor, but now all I can think about is that Logan is going to be there. And that he might dance with me.”

The Family: This isn't the sort of family you can usually relate to in a contemporary YA novel. Lexi's family is all sorts of weird. For one thing, her mom is a woman hell-bent on making her 7-year old daughter, Mac, into a tiny pageant queen. Her mom also has problems with overspending, she goes so far as to slap Lexi, to call her ugly, to constantly snub Lexi in favor or the adored child Mac, she steals $4,000 from Lexi, and she has a problem with overspending (which makes them constantly in debt) and with overeating, which is why she is grossly obese.

While I know genetics are partially responsible, I also know that she gained over a hundred pounds after Dad left. She stopped taking care of herself, and just kept eating. The only thing that would get her out of her rut was pageants.

Her mother is just so outrageous, she's the epitome of everything that one can caricature from a reality show, and I expect a little more realism from a book.


Taylor didn’t pay attention to me until I glammed up. But so what? I was a drab version of myself — why would he want to be with someone like that? It’s no wonder guys would never give me the time of day.

The trouble with Lexi is that her journey into looking better devolved into shallowness. We started off with Lexi KNOWING she is a good person, if only people would notice her beyond her fairly plain appearance. After she started making herself over, Lexi became a different person. She makes justifications when guys start noticing her, she starts feeling like she should have tried to be more beautiful all along.

“Well, what do you want me to do? Do you want me to show up in sweats and no makeup and see how he reacts? Did you ever think that maybe I like to dress up? That I like to wear makeup?”
To be honest, I don’t like to wear this much makeup.

She starts lying to herself and ignoring the completely pragmatic advice of her best friend, who's just well-meaning and giving her the big overall pressure. Telling her to not be so quick to rejoice that a boy who has never noticed her before suddenly sees her now that she's "glammed up."

“He never really paid much attention to you, and then you become a fancy version of yourself and suddenly you seem to matter. It’s a little insulting.”

She starts ignoring her best friend, Cam, she of the sage advice, for her new bf.

Cam agrees and, yet again, assures me that she’s okay. But I feel like I’ve let her down. I did the one pageant thing I swore I’d never do: Step on whoever to get to the top.

Because she doesn't like Cam's way of giving her the cold truth. Which makes it all the MORE baffling when Lexi starts getting pissy at Taylor and accusing him of liking her only for her looks when she was completely ok that he apparently noticed her improved appearance a few weeks ago.

“Oh, come on. You didn’t show any interest in me until I started dressing like all those Glamour Girls at school. Don’t pretend you care about anything but how I look.”

The Romance:

“Oh, so you realized that I was at the table.”
“Of course, I knew —”
He cuts me off. “What was that with Logan?”
I don’t know what to say. Of course I had to mess this up. Of course. I mean, yeah, for a split second I thought I was on a date with Logan, but what I did wasn’t fair to Taylor. I should’ve known better. He deserves better.

So Lexi got herself a new boyfriend after her glamorization. Taylor may be a jock, but he's a pretty awesome guy. He's nice, attentive, sweet. The only trouble is that Lexi is constantly dreaming of her crush, Logan, while she's with Taylor.

Logan has a girlfriend. Lexi now has a boyfriend in Taylor. She still has feelings for Logan.

I try to shake off the jealous feeling that’s overwhelming me. I thought that as Taylor and I got more serious I’d stop obsessing over Logan, but old habits (and delusional fantasies) die hard.

She never, ever stops thinking about Logan throughout the entire book, and shall I emphasize that she's still dating Taylor?

I don’t even know if I like Taylor. He’s gorgeous, so I’d be stupid not to. But because I’m pathetic, all I keep thinking about is Logan. I was hoping that once I had a real date with a real boy my Logan delusions would end, or at least subside.

And she can't stop comparing her fantasies of the Best Kiss Ever with Logan while Taylor's taken her out on a date and didn't try to make a move on her.

“Wait a second.” Benny snaps me back to reality. “So because he didn’t shove his tongue down your throat, you’re convinced that he’s not into you? Has the thought ever crossed your mind that he’s being a gentleman?”

So in conclusion, Lexi thinks she's an awful person for having feelings for two guys at the same time, one of whom is the sweetest guy ever.

“Oh, it’s … I think I’m an awful person.”
“What?” Benny and Cam ask in unison.
“Why can’t I get Logan out of my head?”
“Because you’re a glutton for punishment,” Benny says with a grin.
“I should be jumping for joy that I’m with somebody as amazing as Taylor, but now all I can think about is that Logan is going to be there. And that he might dance with me.”

And I would have to agree.