Reviewed by Jaglvr for TeensReadToo.com
Oribella Bettencourt has it all. At least looking outside in, everyone assumes she's got it all.
Ever since she was a toddler, she's been groomed to be a star. She has taken dance and modeling classes. She's gorgeous, and her crowning glory (literally her Crowning Glory, as she won the title in a pageant) is her long golden tresses. Her lovely hair has even landed her a supporting actress role in a Razzi's Tale. Her hair was so important in landing her the role that there is a clause in her contract prohibiting her to do anything to her hair. She's going to be a star - and all of her mother's sacrifices will have been worth it.
When Oribella notices a few small clumps of hair have fallen out, at first she panics. But she reads up on hair loss and chalks it up to stress and poor nutrition. She pampers her hair even more, putting as little pressure on it as possible, and renews her efforts to reduce stress and eat better. After all, models have to stay thin and are known to constantly be dieting.
But when Gypsy, a rival at her dance class, makes a comment about a bald spot on Oribella's scalp, her nightmare just begins. When Oribella finally confesses to her mother, months after the initial hair loss, they embark on rounds of treatments to reverse her alopecia (hair loss.)
Just as her hair is unraveling from her head, Oribella's dreams are coming apart at the seams. Her bright future was within her grasp, only to be ripped apart at the finish line.
With her future changed, Oribella and her mother begin to dance around each other. Neither knows where they fit into each other's world, with the life of pageants and acting now gone. But for Oribella, the loss of her dreams isn't the total end. She realizes she is lonely and longs for a real teenage life. She is thrust into a world she's unfamiliar with...high school. Previously, she attended school simply to keep the authorities happy. But she was unconcerned with fitting in or achieving good grades. After all, if she was going to be a star, why would she need it?
Ms. Blazanin writes an amazing book looking at the true meaning of beauty. Oribella struggles to rewire her thought processes to get beyond the outer beauty of everything. She was brought up to look for imperfections. But when she becomes friends with the most unlikely group of girls, Oribella has to learn the hard way what it means to a friend and be a team player.
Ms. Blazanin takes a horrific event in Oribella's life and educates the reader on a little known condition, alopecia areata. It takes a lot of guts for Oribella to embrace her new situation and become an entirely different person. The reader gets to watch Oribella grow and blossom into a true beauty by the end of the story.