Glory Jansen has always been content to be in her beauty queen sister's shadow. A rebuff by a group of pompous frat boys, however, compels her to enter The Miss Crystal Lake Pageant out of spite. To everyone's surprise, including her own, she wins. Her mother, who was stripped of the Miss Empire State crown in 1948 because of an unwanted pregnancy, is partially vindicated. Two of her daughters are on their way to the Miss American Beauty Pageant.
On her road to "nationals," Glory soon finds herself thrust from her sheltered world into that socio-cultural roller coaster that was 1969. It is a world populated by hawks and doves, fraternity brothers and radicals, beauty queens and bra-burning feminists.
On this journey she not only discovers true love, but also her own self worth as a woman.
In the end, Glory must decide between accepting the conformity of the crown or shunning her victory by escaping into a better, less complicated life with the man she lovesthe revolutionary, Joad Colter.