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YA Books: Beauty Pageants and Debutantes

There is a lot of content to mine in a beauty pageant setting: competition, romance, scheming, bribery, mystery. Novels about girls making their debut into society strike a similar chord. These novels are fun and show the drama and personality of a world where looking good is the main goal.


1. Crowned by Julie Linker

"Presley loves the pageant world. She knows how to work the crowd and looks gorgeous in an evening gown. But really, she needs the pageant world -- for its scholarships and opportunities. The only thing standing in her way? Her archrival, Megan, who was practically born wearing a crown and sash. Megan may be the nastiest girl on the circuit, but she has one thing that Presley doesn't: connections. And she won't hesitate to use them. What happens when two girls will stop at nothing -- including scandalous Internet pictures, vicious message board rumors, or "accidentally" ruined hair -- to be crowned the winner? Strap on your stilettos and tuck in those shoulder pads...it's going to be a bumpy ride."


2. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

"Teen beauty queens. A "Lost"-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to emall. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count."


3. Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg

"Don't mess with a girl with a great personality. Everybody loves Lexi. She's popular, smart, funny . . . but she's never been one of those girls, the pretty ones, who get all the attention from guys. And on top of that, her seven-year-old sister, Mackenzie, is a terror in a tiara, and part of a pageant scene where she gets praised for her beauty (with the help of fake hair and tons of makeup). Lexi's sick of it. She's sick of being the girl who hears about kisses instead of getting them. She's sick of being ignored by her longtime crush, Logan. She's sick of being taken for granted by her pageant-obsessed mom. And she's sick of having all her family's money wasted on a phony pursuit of perfection. The time has come for Lexi to step out from the sidelines. Girls without great personalities aren't going to know what hit them. Because Lexi's going to play the beauty game -- and she's in it to win it."


4. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

"Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts. Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him--and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y'all beg for more."

5. Pants on Fire by Meg Cabot

"But she can't exactly tell the truth, either—not when she's juggling two boyfriends, secretly hating the high school football team everyone else worships, and trying to have the best summer ever. At least Katie has it all under control (sort of). Her biggest secret, what really happened the night Tommy Sullivan is a freak was spray-painted on the junior high gymnasium wall, is safe.

That is, until Tommy comes back to town. Katie is sure he's going to ruin all her plans, and she'll do anything to hang on to her perfect existence. Even if it means telling more lies. Even if, now that Tommy's around, she's actually—truthfully—having the time of her life."


6. The Accidental Beauty Queen by Keri Wilson

"Charlotte Gorman loves her job as an elementary school librarian, and is content to experience life through the pages of her books. Which couldn’t be more opposite from her identical twin sister. Ginny, an Instagram-famous beauty pageant contestant, has been chasing a crown since she was old enough to enunciate the words world peace, and she’s not giving up until she gets the title of Miss American Treasure. And Ginny’s refusing to do it alone this time. She drags Charlotte to the pageant as a good luck charm, but the winning plan quickly goes awry when Ginny has a terrible, face-altering allergic reaction the night before the pageant, and Charlotte suddenly finds herself in a switcheroo the twins haven’t successfully pulled off in decades. Woefully unprepared for the glittery world of hair extensions, false eyelashes, and push-up bras, Charlotte is mortified at every unstable step in her sky-high stilettos. But as she discovers there’s more to her fellow contestants than just wanting a sparkly crown, Charlotte realizes she has a whole new motivation for winning."


7. Red by Alison Cherry

"Felicity St. John has it all: loyal best friends, a hot guy, and artistic talent. And she’s right on track to win the Miss Scarlet pageant. Her perfect life is possible because of just one thing: her long, wavy, coppery red hair. Redheads hold all the power in Scarletville—and everybody knows it. That’s why Felicity is scared down to her roots when she receives an anonymous note: I know your secret. Because Felicity is a big fake. Her hair color comes straight out of a bottle. And if anyone discovers the truth, she’ll be a social outcast faster than she can say strawberry blond. Felicity isn’t about to let someone blackmail her life away. But just how far is she willing to go to protect her red cred?"


8. Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

"Eighteen-year-old auto mechanic Sawyer Taft did not expect her estranged grandmother to show up at her apartment door and offer her a six-figure contract to participate in debutante season. And she definitely never imagined she would accept. But when she realizes that immersing herself in her grandmother's "society" might mean discovering the answer to the biggest mystery of her life-her father's identity-she signs on the dotted line and braces herself for a year of makeovers, big dresses, bigger egos, and a whole lot of bless your heart. The one thing she doesn't expect to find is friendship, but as she's drawn into a group of debutantes with scandalous, dangerous secrets of their own, Sawyer quickly discovers that her family isn't the only mainstay of high society with skeletons in their closet. There are people in her grandmother's glittering world who are not what they appear, and no one wants Sawyer poking her nose into the past. As she navigates the twisted relationships between her new friends and their powerful parents, Sawyer's search for the truth about her own origins is just the beginning."


9. Snow Queen by Emma Harrison

"Chamberlain Ski Resort and Spa

Welcome to the 10th Annual Snow Queen competition!

I can't believe I got roped into this.

Snow Princesses must attend all pageant rehearsals, with appropriate outfits.

Well, no matter what it takes, I'm going to wipe that smirk off Layla Chamberlain's face.

Our rehearsal space can be booked to practice your talent.

Um, does "looking dumb in a dress" count as a talent?

See Grayson Chamberlain, the assistant director, with any questions.

If you insist! First question: How can someone so sweet (and hot!) be a Chamberlain?

Good luck! One of you will soon be our new Snow Queen!

Oh joy.

Unless Grayson comes with the tiara . . ."


10. The Season by Jonah Marsh and Stephen Dyer

"In this hilarious reboot of Pride and Prejudice, Megan McKnight is a soccer star with Olympic dreams. When her Southern belle mother secretly enters her as a debutante for the 2016 deb season in their hometown of Dallas, she’s furious—and has no idea what she’s in for. Megan’s attitude swiftly gets her on probation with the mother hen of the debs, and she’s given a month to prove she can ballroom dance, display impeccable manners, and curtsey like a proper Texas lady or she’ll get the boot and disgrace her family. The perk of being a debutante, of course, is going to parties, and it’s at one of these lavish affairs where Megan gets swept off her feet by the debonair and down-to-earth Hank Waterhouse.  If only she didn’t have to contend with a backstabbing blonde and her handsome but surly billionaire boyfriend, Megan thinks, being a deb might not be so bad after all. But that’s before she humiliates herself in front of a room full of ten-year-olds, becomes embroiled in a media-frenzy scandal, and gets punched in the face by another girl."




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