Revenge of a Not-So-Pretty Girl

Overview

Fans of Walter Dean Myers and Rita Williams-Garcia's One Crazy Summer will cherish this gripping story of an African American girl living in 1980s Brooklyn, who overcomes abuse and neglect in discovering real friendship, self-respect, and that pretty and mean don't always win.

  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. ...

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Revenge of a Not-So-Pretty Girl

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Overview

Fans of Walter Dean Myers and Rita Williams-Garcia's One Crazy Summer will cherish this gripping story of an African American girl living in 1980s Brooklyn, who overcomes abuse and neglect in discovering real friendship, self-respect, and that pretty and mean don't always win.

  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. 

A JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD SELECTION

A Bankstreet Best Book of the Year

"Definitely a page-turner!"—Seventeen.com

“Exhilarating . . . compelling and believable.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred

“A well-told story of an empowering friendship.”—The Bulletin, Recommended

“This realistic portrayal of emotions, decisions, and hardships will appeal to teens who are also struggling with their identities.”—SLJ

“Blythe, in her first book for teens, explores karma, guilt, morality, and taking responsibility for one’s actions.  . . . the story provides a thoughtful glimpse of what it’s like to reevaluate one’s life at any age.”—Publisher’s Weekly
 
“This is a classic coming-of-age story . . . Faye’s personal growth and her eventual escape from a dark home life are rewarding.”—Booklist

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Blythe, in her first book for teens, explores karma, guilt, morality, and taking responsibility for one’s actions. In 1984, 14-year-old Faye lives with her volatile and overworked mother (an immigrant from the Caribbean island of Dominica) near Prospect Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., where nice and not-so-nice neighborhoods rub shoulders. Faye and two of her friends occasionally mug “pretty, stuck-up girls with loads of extra cash in their pockets,” seeing it as a way to put them in their place. But when they rob Evelyn, an 80-year-old former film star, and injure her, Faye decides that she’s gone too far. Both lonely, Faye and Evelyn develop an unexpected friendship, connecting over Evelyn’s secrets and regrets, and the drama Faye endures with friends and at home. While Faye’s narration is strong and increasingly sympathetic as the story goes on, the plot takes some time to unfold and the dialogue can be long-winded. Still, the story provides a thoughtful glimpse of what it’s like to reevaluate one’s life at any age. Ages 12–up. Agent: Katie Shea, Donald Maass Literary Agency. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2013:
 “Solidly grounded in the gritty realities of daily life, Faye’s discoveries feel earned. A compelling and believable journey.”
VOYA - Ann McDuffie
What starts out as the minor mugging of an elderly white woman by three teenage girls goes disastrously wrong when the victim falls down apparently dead. Faye did not mean to push the old lady so hard but she and her so-called friends take off before learning the truth. Back home, Faye's feeling of worthlessness is brought even lower by her abusive mother. Ever since the crime, bad things keep happening to Faye, who believes she has been cursed with negative karma. Wracked by guilt, she returns to the scene of the crime, finding the woman barely alive. Thinking she has been given a chance to redeem herself, Faye helps Evelyn, a former movie star, which leads them into a troubled friendship. When Faye reverts back to stealing and gets caught, she calls Evelyn instead of her own unstable mother. The older woman finally reveals the truth about her past—that she was of mixed race and had abandoned her black husband and baby daughter for a life in Hollywood. Revenge Of A Not-So-Pretty Girl succeeds as urban fiction for girls without unnecessary violence, sex or drugs. Throughout the story, Faye spends time with friends from school, experiencing all the uncertainties of young adolescence. A mild close encounter with her crush reinforces her feelings of low self-esteem. The mother's mental imbalance and cruelty is alluded to without being overly graphic. Some references to 1980s' fads and bands will likely be missed by teen readers. Although the novel is somewhat preachy regarding right and wrong, Faye eventually does grow into a better person. This novel is a safe purchase that will enhance a school or public library's urban fiction collection. Reviewer: Ann McDuffie
Kirkus Reviews
Disregard the awkward and misleading title. This exhilarating, generous-hearted tale with a smart, funny, caustically observant protagonist is about so much more than revenge: distinguishing what matters from what doesn't, taking risks, making mistakes and paying for them. Faye, 14, and her troubled, abusive mother, a domestic worker, live in Brooklyn. It's 1984; adrift and at risk, Faye engages in petty crime with two other girls. While robbing an elderly white woman rumored to have once been a movie star, Faye knocks her to the floor. Later, Faye can't stop thinking about her. Has Faye killed her? Is that why her life's going badly? Two days later, Faye returns, finding the woman still on the floor but alive, and she chooses to help her. A frail friendship is born. Taking conscious action nurtures Faye's self-respect, expands her horizons and transforms her relationships. Her actions affect others, causing them to take action that affects her, insights prompting forgiveness and understanding. She realizes she's been applying the same superficial judgments--good-looking equals better--she objects to when applied to her. (Like Siobhan Vivian in The List (2012), Blythe explores issues of physical appearance in rare depth.) Some mistakes aren't fixable, Faye learns, but she'll keep trying to fix them anyway. Solidly grounded in the gritty realities of daily life, Faye's discoveries feel earned. A compelling and believable journey. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)
Children's Literature - Elisabeth Greenberg
Faye's life is not turning out to be what she wanted it to be. Her mother takes out her own frustrations from a separation on Faye by ordering her around and smacking her when she doesn't perform. Faye is convinced she is ugly and unlovable and her so-called friend Caroline convinces her to attack prettier girls and steal from them. Then Caroline comes up with a plan to steal more from an elderly woman who was once a movie star in Hollywood. She must be rich, right? Once the girls deceive the woman into letting them into her apartment by offering to carry her bags, bad quickly becomes worse. Faye feels attacked by the older woman and pushes her away, and suddenly the woman is like a rag doll propped against the wall. Is she dead or not? The girls run with the $300 they have forced the woman to give them, and Faye is left with a load of guilt; has she killed the movie actress Evelyn Downer? Her mother, wrapped in her own anger, hauls Faye off to confession where a priest tells her she has to make reparation. And so Faye's life takes a turn for the better as she returns to the apartment, helps the woman into bed (and even changes her urine-soaked clothes), and learns to trust another adult and herself. She makes better choices of friends; she befriends her mother's new boyfriend who allows her the privacy of her dad's letters to her; and finally she gets the chance to visit her dad's new family in Florida and realize that if she wants to have a relationship with her Mom, she needs to return to New York City and become the best person she can be. The book's characters are believable and engaging, particularly Faye and Ms. Downer, who both mistrust the other but learn to respect and honor the other's individuality. Recommended, particularly for urban area school libraries. Reviewer: Elisabeth Greenberg
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Faye, 14, feels worthless and oppressed. Her father, a struggling musician, left her and her mother years earlier, her mother is full of anger and takes it out on the teen, and her two neighborhood friends have convinced her that if you aren't attractive, the only way to make it in life is to take what you want. The novel, which is set in 1984 Brooklyn, opens with Faye and her friends staking out a former movie star's apartment so they can take her money. The robbery goes awry and the elderly lady ends up sprawled across the floor. Faye finds herself returning to the scene of the crime a few days later. What ensues is a journey to find herself. Faye befriends the old woman and begins to question her life choices. Faye's mother is realistically flawed, as are all of the adults in the novel, and Blythe offers no easy solutions for turning one's life around. The tough-talking Faye slips up and her road to maturity isn't smooth. This realistic portrayal of emotions, decisions, and hardships will appeal to teens who are also struggling with their identities.—Tammy Turner, Centennial High School, Frisco, TX
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385742863
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 4/9/2013
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 585,716
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: HL800L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

CAROLITA BLYTHE was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and raised in New York City. A graduate of Syracuse University, she currently resides in Los Angeles, where, when not writing novels, she works behind the scenes on popular television shows. Her debut novel was entitled The Cricket's Serenade. She has also published travel articles and short stories. An avid traveler, Carolita is a New Yorker at heart, who spends summers worshiping the Yankees and autumns pulling for the Jets. 

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