Just Like Beauty

Book: Just Like Beauty: A Novel by Lisa Lerner

Pages: 272 (Hardcover)

The Review: This book was odd- I’ll even go so far as to say that this is one of the oddest books I’ve read in a long time.

The best way to describe this book is: a coming-of-age story set in the dystopic suburban near-future.  The book is about 14-year-old Edie, who is training for her town’s annual Feminine Woman of Conscience Pageant.  The girls compete in…erotic and other womanly arts.  There were a few tasks that jumped out at me- Mysterious Powders, which Edie was really good at, a task where she had to train a rabbit and then kill it to make something out of it’s fur, and another task that involves simulating sex with a plastic dummy.  That last task I mentioned?  It’s how the book opens, with Edie practicing for that portion of the Pageant.

The town is really futuristic, with restaurants like Just Like Meat Planet, and products like Just Like Beans.

I liked the premise of the novel, but I felt like it started in the middle of the story.  There was a lot missing-  basic details about how this town got to be so futuristic, what the pageant is really all about, and critical parts of the story weren’t explained very well, and that’s if they were explained at all.  Edie’s first love, her relationship with her parents, and why her mother was the way she was weren’t really developed.

The book does make you think, and I have all kinds of questions.  Why is society is okay with their teenage daughter performing sex acts on a plastic dummy?  Why are teen boys allowed to run amok?  Why are there people “torching” the girls in the pageant?

Rating: 2 out of 5.  She had the wrong kind of details- she went on too long about how futuristic the society was but glossed over the back story of how this town came to be and why things were the way they were.

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