The Prettiest

Roaring Brook. Apr. 2020. 320p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781626729230.
Gr 4-6–Eve didn’t like attention. She dressed and acted in a way that she hoped would keep her from sticking out and was confused the day everyone stared at her. When she found out she was rated number one on the list of prettiest eighth grade girls in her school, she was horrified. The harassing anonymous texts begin almost immediately, and Eve’s afraid to tell anyone. Popular Sophie got up an hour and a half early every day to do her hair and makeup for school. When she finds out she is second on the list, she’s furious. Overnight, her life changes as her friends no longer look up to her like they had in the past. Nessa is Eve’s best friend and not on the list at all. She’s viewed only in terms of her size, not her personality or talent. The list changes everything for every girl in their school, whether they are on it or not. Eve, Nessa, and Sophie become an unlikely trio as they try to find evidence that Brody, a classmate Sophie dated, wrote the list. This timely novel explores the topic of sexual harassment and the dynamics of middle school in a realistic way. Narrated by three voices, readers are given a wide view of the situation, and experience the trio learning new things about each other. United in their pursuit to expose Brady, their friendships take time to evolve as they confront their own past judgments in a way that is authentic and often humorous.
VERDICT A novel that addresses issues of bullying, sexism, objectification, and harassment while equally centering empowerment, the bonds of friendship, and self-acceptance. Highly recommended to inspire discussion among thoughtful young readers.

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