The Making of a Small-Town Beauty King – Book Review
Title: The Making of A Small-Town Beauty King
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult–Coming of Age
Author and Bio:
Savy Leiser (1992- ) is a young adult writer and freelance journalist living in Chicago. She also works as an editor for Writer’s Confidante (writersconfidante.com), which provides proofreading and critiquing services to independent authors. After graduating from Northwestern University with a B.A. in Communication in 2015, Savy continues to bleed purple every day. Her hobbies include losing her voice screaming at Wildcats football games and occasionally performing stand-up comedy around Chicago.
Want to learn more? I interviewed Savy here!
Check back on Friday for the reviews of Savy’s two new children’s books!
He wants to be the first boy to win the beauty pageant.
She wants to destroy the pageant entirely.
The world’s most boring town just got a whole lot more interesting.
Once a year, the boring small town of Grey Acres perks up for its annual town fair.
For champion Mathlete and headstrong feminist Stephanie Simon, this year’s fair means another year of pressure from her mother (an 80s beauty queen turned pumpkin farmer) to enter the fair’s beauty pageant.
For college-bound convenience store clerk Jackie Almond, the fair just means the same old rush of customers buying slightly more interesting newspapers. That is, until a fateful meeting with a quirky guidance counselor informs Jackie that most colleges won’t accept him without something to make him stand out.
Just as Jackie hatches a plan to become the first-ever male Fair Queen, Steph devises a scheme to destroy the pageant that’s offended her for years.
What follows is an all-out war between Steph and Jackie, complete with pumpkin theft, sabotaged first dates, department store shoplifting, and paint-filled water balloon fights, all leading up to one Saturday-night beauty pageant the forgettable town of Grey Acres will always remember.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
I am so psyched that I am finally here reviewing The Making of a Small-Town Beauty King. A few months ago, I became friends with Savy Leiser on Twitter and I remember reading the synopsis of her book and wanting to read it so bad! I finally had the opportunity and I have to say, it does not disappoint!
It’s a young adult, coming of age novella that tackles the conversations regarding feminism and homosexuality, as well as, small-town woes, finding what your passion is, and what to write for your college entry essays.
Written in third person, it follows a few different characters, but the main characters are Jackie, Logan, and Steph. We are brought into their small town of Grey Acres, where these characters feel as if nothing changes.
Jackie Almond is a junior in high school who wants to be the first guy to be crowned Grey Acres Fair Queen at their county fair because he feels it’ll help him stand out on college applications. Steph wants to destroy the Grey Acres Fair Queen Pageant because she feels it’s misogynistic. She doesn’t think that girls should be judged like pumpkins are judged at the county fair. Since she’s from a family who grows pumpkins and wins the contest every year, she feels she’s a genius on the topic. Problem is, her mother was a Grey Acres Fair Queen and wants Steph to be one too.
This is a short, quirky book that is able to have these difficult conversations almost nonchalantly.
There is a scene in the book where Jackie is trying on different prom dresses for the pageant, but doesn’t know what size he’d be in girl sizes. So he brings a few different dresses into the dressing room. He chooses the girl’s dressing room because those are the clothes he is trying on and once he has a dress on and asks a sales lady for help, he gets asked to leave as she believes the entire thing is a joke. Jackie is unable to see the issue, as he seriously just wants help figuring out the best size and how the dress should feel. He’s comfortable in his heterosexuality that he doesn’t deem this a strange thing to others. To try and sort it out, he asks if the men’s dressing room would be able to help in dress sizes. I loved reading this scene and really seeing how this shouldn’t be an issue, but then it brought up the idea of transsexuals. What is it like for people who identify as trans? What is the initial sizing of clothes like? How are those questions answered for them? I imagine the situation would be similar for them. But it wouldn’t be just for a pageant. It would be their life.
*End potential spoiler*
Savy has this brilliant way of writing that can bring in those conversations, where they shouldn’t be that big of a deal. There is no need to focus too much time and attention on them, because it shows the progression of the characters. But it’s enough focus for the reader to touch base with themselves and see how they feel about certain topics.
While speaking about feminism, she brings up two different sides too. We have Steph’s side where she imagines that women are being judged just solely based on appearance and then we have those who are entering the pageant because they genuinely enjoy the idea, want to and it isn’t based solely on their appearance for them. It becomes a conflict that Steph has to work through and see where she stands on both sides. But it’s also the idea of our own Miss America Pageants and deciding where one stands on those ideas too. And at the end of the day, do they go against feminism? Or are we allowed to have an equal footing?
While I would have loved some more detail and focus on certain aspects of the book, I do love how short and concise this novella was. It takes place over a couple of day time span, no more than 160 pages! It’s a quick, easy read with important information between those pages.
I’m giving it a 4.5 because Savy was able to flawlessly tackle topics that many authors cannot do in a full length novel.
I would definitely recommend this book! It’ll keep you thinking long after you close the pages. I cannot wait to read more books by Savy Leiser! Keep an eye out in 2018 for her release of her YA novel. Until then, she has written two children’s books, part of the Furever Home Friends series. Check back on Friday for the reviews to those two!