BOOK REVIEW: All The Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J. Church

All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J. Church
Scrappymags 3-word review: Unmasking Vegas glamour
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Genre: Contemporary Fiction (1960’s), Women’s Fiction
Shortest summary ever: Lily Decker is just a small town girl (insert Journey lyrics) wanting to make it somewhere – ANYWHERE away from her trapped-in-the-impossible life. And she deserves it. Orphaned by an accident that took her parents and sister, she is forced to live with an aunt with no feeling for motherhood and a devastatingly abusive uncle. The only thing Lily has going for her is dance, so at 18 she flees Kansas in the night and is thrust into Vegas showgirl life, reinventing herself as Ruby Wilde. But being a showgirl ain’t easy. Old demons haunt. Overcoming adversity isn’t always a story book, and life can change on a dime.
What’s good under the hood: As I started reading, I felt a sense of dread, that eye-rolling“oh poor pretty girl has problems” sort of feeling. SHAME ON ME, because Lily DOES have legitimate problems and compassion grabbed hold of me because Lily is likeable. And normal. And finding her way. I found myself cheering for her, and it taught me immensely about making swift judgements just because someone is pretty and chooses a career based on aesthetics. Instead, like I do with so many books, I tried to put myself in her head – in her place in life, how it would feel, the power to feel beautiful in gorgeous costumes and elegant style. Incredible. And Church completely captured that fascination in the 60’s of the Vegas showgirl. I adored walking the stage…
What’s bad or made me mad: I’m a feminist, so there’s a part of me that screamed “CHOOSE EDUCATION!!!!”, but feminism is about making choices, and Lily made her choices. I had to make my piece with that.
Recommend to:
  • The “it” and “now” book readers.
  • Book clubs, circles, groups, etc.  – lots to talk about in regards to women since the 60’s and the choices Lily makes.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Ballantine and Ms. Church for an advanced copy (and allowing me to strut my stuff – mentally – in a skimpy Vegas costume. To applause and not laughter) in exchange for this completely honest review.