Revenge of a Not-So-Pretty Girl
Girls who are pretty have a way of looking down their perfect noses at anyone they feel isn’t worthy of sharing the air with them. They have a way of making regular girls like me feel inferior for not winning the gene pool lottery. Tormenting them is my way of getting even.
Everyone knows that pretty equals mean, and Evelyn Ryder used to be a beautiful movie star—never mind that it was practically a lifetime ago. There’s no time limit on mean. So if you think I feel guilty about mugging her, think again.
But for something that should have been so simple, it sure went horribly wrong. See, I think I might have killed that old movie star. Accidentally, of course. And I’m starting to believe that my actions have cursed me, because nothing in my life has gone right since then.
That’s why I’m returning to the scene of the crime. To see if there’s any chance that old lady might still be alive. To see if I might be able to turn my luck around. Maybe my life can be different. But if I want things to change, I’m gonna have to walk the straight and narrow. And that means no more revenge.
The strengths of this book are the realistic setting and the nuanced relationships between family members. Blythe clearly knows her characters' neighborhood, and she delivers the setting in vivid, sensory detail. Readers will be fully encompassed in the 1980's Brooklyn streets on which this story takes place. Part of that realistic setting is Blythe's ability to deliver authentic African-American characters while avoiding stereotypes. Characters are fully realized, and their choices are rooted in their individual motivations. I especially enjoyed the often strained family relationships as Blythe treats each character with unflinching honesty and a dose of compassionate insight, and doesn't offer pat, easy answers where none exist.
What Left Me Wanting More:
While I found parts of the plot to be predictable, I think this story is more about character growth than plot. I did wish for the gang of girls to stop obsessing all the time about "pretty" girls or for the author to find a way to deal with that in a way that helped resolve the animosity and single-minded focus.
Fans of Walter Dean Myers and readers looking for a nuanced, authentic multi-cultural book free of stereotypes will enjoy REVENGE OF A NOT-SO-PRETTY GIRL.