(Excerpt from Amazon) In this semi-autobiographical debut novel set in 1983, Vanessa Martin’s real-life reality of living with family in public housing in Newark, New Jersey is a far cry from the glamorous Miss America stage. She struggles with a mother she barely remembers, a grandfather dealing with addiction and her own battle with self-confidence. But when a new teacher at school coordinates a beauty pageant and convinces Vanessa to enter, Vanessa’s view of her own world begins to change. Vanessa discovers that her own self-worth is more than the scores of her talent performance and her interview answers, and that she doesn’t need a crown to be comfortable in her own skin and see her own true beauty.
This is my first time reviewing a young adult’s book and I enjoyed this read. My life resonated with Vanessa a young women who dreams of entering a school pageant but has to deal with her own insecurities, family secrets and bullies to reach her goals. I was bullied in school so I completely understand. Vanessa takes on things that young women have to face growing in the projects with her absent mother, grandpa, and alcoholic father. Like teaches us that we all have a past to overcome and if we don’t confront it it will affect our future that fear will hold you back. In pursuit of overcoming her fears and entering this pageant she discovered new truths about herself, her family and her true friends. Like Vanessa is relatable and you can find yourself in her on so many level or capacity.
I recommend this book for a middle schooler but there are sensitive subjects (adult topics are present).