From Amazon: If life were a fairy tale, Oribella Bettencourt would have a "happily ever after" kind of future ahead of her. A Hollywood producer has come to Des Moines in search of a perfectly modern Princess Rapunzel, and Ori -- a model, dancer, and star of the beauty pageant circuit -- lands the part. But in this fairy tale, the beautiful princess wakes up to her worst nightmare -- when almost overnight, Ori begins to lose her hair....
Fairest of Them All is one of those books that I just couldn't put down. Ori's story hooked me right from the beginning, and I really connected with her as a character. The world of beauty pageants sounds like a pretty scary one, and I'm glad I have absolutely no interest in anything like that. The pressures of glitz and glamour would be too much for me, not to mention the constant self-doubt and esteem issues that inevitably arise.
The way Ori deals with her alopecia is nothing but inspiring, though less can be said for her mother's reactions. She's so obsessed that she looks past her daughter's pain and suffering, and instead focuses on herself. Ori makes new friends, finds herself liking old ones, and manages to create a new life outside of pageants and appearances. She goes through a complete personality change, and is all the better for it. I loved this aspect of the novel; that in the face of her worst nightmare, Ori still carries on with day to day life, and doesn't let anything hold her back. Sometimes change is a good thing, and Jan Blazanin does a brilliant job of conveying the importance of family and friendships, rather than careers and looks. It's a powerful message, and is one that I hope a lot of people will learn from.
I can't wait to see what Blazanin comes up with next. If it's anything like Fairest of Them All, it'll be a must-read for me.