The Pretty One by Cheryl Klam
Current Mood: awake
Current Song: Venus by Bananarama
Sisters Megan and Lucy are separated by eleven months - and looks, and popularity - but are extremely close otherwise. At the Chesapeake School of the Arts, lovely Lucy is a drama major while quiet Megan is a "techie" majoring in theatre production, content to stay backstage while her older sister is in the spotlight. Megan trusts Lucy and really looks up to her.
Then, on the night of the big high school dance, Megan overhears a conversation in the bathroom in which someone criticizes her outfit and her looks. Another voice chimes in, a voice she'd know anywhere. It belongs to her sister. Stunned, hurt, Megan runs out of the restroom, out of the building, and into the street, where she is hit by a car.
She wakes up in the hospital. Having suffered multiple injuries, she'll have to have plenty of rest and physical therapy, and the damage to her face requires reconstructive surgery. When she looks the mirror, she barely recognizes what she sees. While recovering from the accident, Megan lost a significant amount of weight. When she is finally able to return to school, people treat her differently. Some of her classmates don't even realize who she is and think she's a new student.
No longer in Lucy's shadow, Megan feels exposed. The surgeries changed not only her face, but her life. The accident (and the conversation which preceded it) upset the balance the sisters once took for granted, and their slightly overweight father and eternally polished mother have different reactions to their youngest daughter's new appearance. Lucy sets her eyes on Drew, who has been Megan's crush since she was a freshman. Drew had an open book the first time Megan saw him, and she later learned that he carries around a dictionary. Drew's also an aspiring playwright and director, so now he's Lucy's crush-of-the-week. Fellow techie and Megan's longtime best friend Simon is being weird when he's around her. Uncomfortable in her (almost new) skin and unable to reach out to Lucy, Megan returns to the things that comfort her: food, baggy clothing, tech work. Then one of the sisters is cast as the leading lady opposite Drew in his original play, and everyone starts acting up.
Throughout the story, Megan holds on to who she is on the inside. Both before and after her accident, she values someone's personality more than their looks, and wishes others would do the same.
My favorite line from the book captures the sisters' personalities in an instant, with Megan "trailing behind Lucy as she practically skips up the stairs like Tinker Bell tiptoeing through a field of fairy dust..."
The Pretty One was inspired by something that happened to the author's sister. To learn more, read my interview with Cheryl Klam.