Published by Macmillan on March 31, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Satire, Family Life
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From a writer/producer of Family Guy, a satirical look at a dysfunctional southern family complete with an overbearing stage mom, a 9 year-old pageant queen, a cheating husband, his teenage girlfriend, a crazy grandmother, and Jesus.
After eight-and-a-half years and three hundred twenty-three pageants, Miranda Miller has become the ultimate stage mother. Her mission in life is to see that her nine-year-old daughter, Bailey, continues to be one of the most successful child pageant contestants in the southern United States. But lately, that mission has become increasingly difficult. Bailey wants to retire and has been secretly binge eating to make herself "unpageantable;" and the reality show Miranda has spent years trying to set up just went to their biggest rival.
But Miranda has a plan. She's seven months pregnant with her fourth child, a girl (thank God), and she is going to make damn sure this one is even more successful than Bailey, even if the new girl is a little different.
Miranda's husband, Ray, however, doesn't have time for pageants. A full-time nurse, Ray spends his days at the hospital where he has developed a habit of taking whatever pills happen to be lying around. His nights are spent working hospice and dealing with Courtney, the seventeen-year-old orphan granddaughter of one of his hospice patients who he has, regrettably, knocked up. With a pregnant wife, a pregnant teenage mistress, two jobs, a drug hobby, and a mountain of debt, Ray is starting to take desperate measures to find some peace. Meanwhile, the Millers' two sons are being homeschooled by Miranda's mother, Joan (pronounced Jo-Ann), a God-fearing widow who spends her free time playing cards and planning a murder with Jesus. Yes, Jesus.
Bailey Miller is the current 5th most titled in all of Southern pageantry. Her mom Miranda is the quintessential pageant mom and sees big things for her family. Sadly nothing is going right; Bailey is putting on weight and a rival named Starr is thwarting her title runs. But Miranda has plans and heaven help those who get in her way.
Crazy Southern pageant family…yes please. As someone who has watched with morbid fascination every episode of Toddlers and Tiaras, Little Miss Perfect and Honey Boo Boo, Pretty Ugly filled my pageant void perfectly. While crass, tasteless, and at times just plain ridiculous, this book was pure fun. The pacing was spot on and the world was very real. Every character was well fleshed out and even while acting horribly you were rooting for them to win. This was a fast read that was thoroughly enjoyable the whole way through. If you’re looking for a great read without needing to dissect plot and motivation this is the one.