Beauty Queen by Linda Glovach
Summary (from me for once because I can't find one on amazon or the publisher's website - bear in mind it might be a little... snarky): At nineteen, Sam has decided she's never going to fall in love again, because her high school boyfriend dumped her for a sugar mama. She works for $185 dollars a week at Chicken & Ribs, has a diabetic cat named Dinah, and lives with her alcoholic mother and her mother's abusive, enabling boyfriend who comes onto her regularly. So like anyone would, when she finally gets her therapist to convince her mother to pay for the security and a few months rent of an apartment for her, she gets a job stripping at a club called the Web. And because she has no confidence, even though she's 5'10 and weighs 128, she starts doing heroin. It all goes downhill for Sam from there.
Review: As you can probably tell from the summary, I wasn't a big fan of this one. First of all, if your mother is always wasted and buzzed on sleeping pills, aren't you going to be less likely to try all that stuff? "If I wasn't doing this, I'd be drinking multiple bottles of booze a day like my mother because I don't have the nerve to strip and dance around topless on stage" is NOT a reason to do heroin!
Now I'm probably going to spoil the ending to this one, so keep reading at your own risk, I need to vent.
The next thing that bugged me was that... well, Sam was an idiot, to be honest. She apparently had no idea that she could get HIV or AIDS from sharing needles and she thought that the worst thing the heroin did to her was make her crave ice cream. On a more personally insulting note, she described Saskatoon as, and this is a quote straight from the book, "Saskatoon, Canada, a few hundred miles west of Toronto." Uh, hello? Look at a map, why don't you? It's not like someone visiting the States is going to say "We're heading to Houston, a few hundred miles south of New York." Countries aren't defined by single cities!!
Okay, that aside, I hated how the author treated the actual drug use itself. On the back she says that she's a former drug addict herself, and that she almost killed herself trying to get a "feel" for the book, but the way it's written, it's like... a love story about heroin, and I know how horrible it sounds. Most of what Sam said about the drug use was positive in a way. She called it her magic potion and bragged about how good it made her feel, how it gave her confidence and made her lose weight and helped her sleep if she took the right dose. She honestly thought that cravings for milk shakes and her skin looking grey with little green-black smudges around the corners of her eyes were the worst side effects. Now I'm by NO means an expert in what heroin does to your body, but I'm going to assume that there are far more side effects than that.
Next, why didn't anyone suspect anything was up? Okay, her mother is in a booze-induced haze, but still. Sam's best friend, Nicole, knew that she was shooting heroin. Nicole's father died from a heart attack caused by mixing Ritalin and speed. Did she THINK to say anything to Sam's mother? Nope. Just walked out of Sam's life and then *HUGE SPOILER HERE, I'M GIVING YOU AN EXTRA WARNING EVEN THOUGH I ALREADY WARNED YOU I MAY INCLUDE SOME* cried at her funeral when she overdosed. *DONE* That just bugged me in a huge way.
Lastly... with such a serious subject matter, it should really be geared towards older readers, right? Beauty Queen read like a book written for sixth or seventh graders. Or... not so much that as told by one. It was written like a diary, you know? And half the time Sam sounded like she was thirteen. It was disturbing, in a way.
Conclusion: It was a quick read, only 168 pages, and unfortunately it's not a book that will stick with you. It's fine, but not great. Two roses. I'd very much recommend Tweak over this one if you're looking for a realistic, good book about drug abuse.
Peace and cookies,