Pretty Ugly: A Novel
“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.
A bright new voice in satirical literature, Kirker Butler pulls no punches as he dissects our culture's current state of affairs. It's really funny, but it's also pretty ugly.”
Pretty Ugly is a very apt name for this novel. If you like reality shows like Honey BooBoo or movies like Drop Dead Gorgeous, this may be a book that is right up your alley. It is claimed to be a satirical look into pageants, but I have a feeling that there is more truth to these observations of childrens pageants than there is satire.
Sometimes this book was captivating in a ‘if you can’t say something nice about someone come sit by me’ sort of way and other times it was just horrid. Ray and his drugs. What was the author thinking of when he made Ray an indiscriminant drug addict? I found this to be almost too much and at times I was almost hoping that Ray would just OD and leave the world a better place.
If you do manage to read this book long enough there is a HEA of sorts and frankly it made the whole thing worth reading. Ray and Miranda are having a baby and they know it is a girl. This is Miranda’s second chance at having a pageant Princess and she is thrilled…until the baby is born (if I say anything more about the baby I will spoil the book for you). Luckily at this point in the book (the ending) makes up for everything that was annoying earlier.
Unfortunately, you will find that there are too many threads in this book that are never tied up; just left unfinished, and that may leave you wondering…or maybe like me, you just won’t care.
I did manage to finish this though if that says anything!