From Publishers Weekly
Friedman (Then Again
) offers up a spunky, spiteful revenge novel about Allison Penny, an ugly 20-something who suddenly wakes up gorgeous—a silly conceit counterbalanced by bulls-eye social commentary and sharply drawn characters. Allison's roommate, Virginie, and her boyfriend, Fraser, have long made Allison's life hell; pretty much everybody is inconsiderate of pretransformation Allison, including her own adoptive mother. Her only friend is Nathan, a video store clerk and aspiring film critic. Early chapters catalogue the injustices of a world in which unattractive people can't get ahead, while later chapters satisfyingly knock down the pins lined up earlier: Allison gets revenge on Virginie, Fraser, her mother and a supporting cast of shop girls, literati and other pretentious types. But she hasn't become beautiful just to get revenge, has she? "Did I have some sort of beauty duty to perform? And if so, what would it be? Posing naked for a PETA billboard? Administering blowjobs to ugly outcasts?" No, but there's a lesson here: "it's what's on the outside that counts." Beautiful Allison gets handsome suitors, job offers—even her mother's affection. But she's kept her sharp, sardonic view of all things superficial, and she still loves homely Nathan. Friedman thumbs her nose at many of the conventions of chick lit, and the nasty bite of her prose offers plenty of guilty pleasure.
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Allison Penny, a self-described "troll," is an overweight, unattractive, depressed 22-year-old with a dead-end cleaning job; a disparaging, alcoholic mother; a father who won't acknowledge her; and a roommate who is just plain mean. Her life is on the fast track to nowhere, until one morning, with no explanation, Allison wakes up stunningly beautiful. What's a girl to do but take her new body for a test drive before her luck runs out? It is in this new body that Allison experiences everything she had been missing. In the end she has to learn how to live in the new body and all the problems that come with it, including getting her inner beauty to match her outer beauty. This modern twist on an old fairy tale is funny, sometimes dark, and completely engaging, but the moral is a little pessimistic--it's what's on the outside that counts. But the book's only real flaw lies in a couple of sexual passages that are raw and somewhat out of tone with the rest of the book. Carolyn KubiszCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved