Monday, January 22, 2018

Piglettes by Clémentine Beauvais (earc) review [@PushkinPress]

Pushkin Children's Books
August 08, 2017
288 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

A wickedly funny and life-affirming coming-of-age roadtrip story - winner of France's biggest prize for teen and YA fiction.

Awarded the Gold, Silver and Bronze trotters after a vote by their classmates on Facebook, Mireille, Astrid and Hakima are officially the three ugliest girls in their school, but does that mean they're going to sit around crying about it?

Well... yes, a bit, but not for long! Climbing aboard their bikes, the trio set off on a summer roadtrip to Paris, their goal: a garden party with the French president. As news of their trip spreads they become stars of social media and television. With the eyes of the nation upon them the girls find fame, friendship and happiness, and still have time to consume an enormous amount of food along the way.

Originally published in 2015 as Les Petites Reines in France, the English version, Piglettes was translated by the author.

Mireille, Astrid and Hakima are ugly. So sayeth the annual vote by their classmates on Facebook, at least. Mireille, for one, absolutely agrees and insists it no longer bothers her, that it's something she accepted. The other two girls have not quite reached that point (if they ever will or, you know, should).

Mireille's self deprecating and often (really) dark sense of humor was very funny, but at times it was hard to know if it was really how she saw things, or the protective barrier she'd built for herself. And if it was funny or just sad. ("I think you made the wrong choice. In retrospect, I mean. Seeing what I turned out to be like, personally, I'd have aborted myself." [pg 179])

The more the story progressed and the more we got to know the three girls, the more I appreciated that we weren't going to get that She's All That makeover scene. These are three girls who are not physically attractive. But you know what? So what. Their physical appearance is only that, it isn't reflective of their knowledge or their ambition or what they can achieve. It's not who they are.

Piglette's characters takes its characters on a great journey, both literally and metaphorically. I loved that what they learn and how they grow was simply a part of the story and that you often did not realize it was happening, at the moment. (We weren't given little asides pointing out what X character had just realized or learnt.) It was all very natural and made for a great read.

I do not think I will ever forget Mireille or the other characters and their trip to Paris (with all of its food and drink and history). This was a funny, smart, touching read and I also think it's fantastic that the author is also the translator!

review copy received, thanks to publisher, via NetGalley

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