edited by Ann Angel
Amulet Books, May 2007
(ARC copy – quotes may differ from final published version)
I really like short stories. But short story collections based around a theme, especially in books aimed at young adults, can be really hard to pull off. They can seem gimmicky and didactic, kind of “here’s what some out-of-touch executive type thinks teens want to read about.” I was wary of this particular title, Such a Pretty Face: Short Stories about Beauty, for just those reasons. I worried that it might be a series of tales about self-conscious “typical teens” overly preoccupied with their weight/skin/hair/shoe size/etc. I’m pleased to report that this was not the case. This collection really does work, thanks to the incredible assemblage of talented authors and the editorial stylings of Ann Angel*.
The stories all feature teenage protagonists and explore different facets of the concept of beauty. There’s a lot of variety in tone and style, ranging from poignant (“Red Rover, Red Rover” by Chris Lynch, about a hospitalized boy who’s in love with a nurse he’s never actually seen), empowering (“What I Look Like” by Jamie Pittel**, in which a girl experiments with her appearance as she establishes her own distinct identity), romantic (“Bella in Five Acts” by Tim Wynne-Jones, about an undersized boy and a beautiful, suicidal girl), and wacky (“Bad Hair Day” by Lauren Myracle, in which a homecoming queen is beset by a supernatural chin hair).
One of the more bittersweet offerings is “Bingo” by Anita Riggio, about a depressed boy whose bubbly best friend tries to save him from himself: