I read Beauty Queens shortly after its publication, anxious to dive into another great Bray read. I was not at all prepared for the awesomeness that this book gave me - straight satire I could chew on for hours. While at the library a couple of weeks ago I was searching for a great YA audio book to listen to and from work. I saw Beauty Queens and noticed that Bray was the reader. I promptly checked it out, curious to see if hearing her read it would enhance my experience with the novel. IT DID (and then some)!
In June I wrote a review of my thoughts on the novel. What I want to focus on is how Bray's interpretation fit mine to a T. I get it, she wrote it, so of course she was magnificent at reading it. What Bray brought to my second experience with this novel is more empathy for the characters, characters I over-looked while reading the novel.
Through her reading, she truly captures the element of satire that I fear many readers will miss while reading the novel. The sound effects enhance the statement she is trying to make with how much our lives are dictated to us through commercialism, beauty, self-absorption, etc.
But what she truly brought to the novel as a reader was heart. While I read the novel I found myself laughing at the many statements, but while hearing her read, those statements truly sank in on another level. It truly brought the entire book together as a whole piece in a way that I missed while reading the novel.
And if that is not enough, she gives an interview at the novel's conclusion. This interview will stay with me for a long time. She discusses having to make a tough choice at the age of eighteen, being thrust into adulthood before she might have been ready. It is a tale that brings a new respect to her as a writer and as a woman. While I have always loved the stories she has created, while I have found myself giggling at many of her tweets, I know find myself respecting her not only as a writer but as a woman, one who does not go "gently into that good night" but fights to do what she loves. This makes me even more nervous to hear and meet her next weekend at the Decatur Book Festival, but I cannot WAIT!
My original review of the novel: These aren't your mama's beauty queens
And FYI: Taylor is STILL my favorite character! Bray really brought her to life on the audio.