Dear Ms. Ross:
I thought the blurb of this book was effective because it conveyed that it wouldn’t be the run of the mill reality tv show but one that featured a woman who would undergo an internal transformation as well as an external one. I love makeover shows because it is exciting to see individuals gain some heretofore unrealized appreciation for their own body and you can really see the difference in how they hold themselves afterward.
Abbey-Rose gets selected to be a contestant on a reality tv show that features makeovers. It is one part Big Brother (everyone lives in the house together) and one part Biggest Loser (people who are overweight are pushed to lose). Quinn, the producer, falls for Abbey-Rose immediately. He sees her beauty that is hidden behind the baggy clothes and the low self confidence.
The concept of the story – that Abbey-Rose learns to overcome the fat jokes, the insults, and the slights to gain self confidence is great. The problem is that Quinn, as the director, interferes too greatly with the reality tv bit such as helping Abbey-Rose finish challenges – challenges that can immunize her from elimination.
Abbey-Rose goes to member selection show of Quinn’s reality TV show never expecting that she and her best friend will be chosen as participants. The set up of the show requires the participants to all live in a secluded mansion and participate in various physical challenges. Coming in last to those challenges places a participant at risk for getting voted off by the audience.
Abbey-Rose and her friend aren’t always near the end but often. It is the challenges part of the story that tainted my appreciation of the story. Quinn assists Abbey-Rose throughout several of the challenges, either personally encouraging her on a particularly grueling physical challenge or being her partner during a water challenge. While I could buy into his inappropriate behavior such as kissing her and having sex with her while she is living in the mansion, the assistance during the challenges crossed over into all-too-incredible territory.
Makeover Miracle goes to great pains to paint Abbey-Rose as a woman who isn’t really in need of a makeover at all in order to convey the message that you don’t have to be thin to be loved. That’s a pretty great message but one that required some intense balancing that wasn’t always maintained and sometimes the message being given off were confusing.
Abbey wasn’t one of the heaviest or the most out of shape, but she was always losing challenges (except when Quinn was helping her). At one point the characters receive nutrition counseling and Abbey spends it describing all the heart attack inducing items she loves to cook for people. I wasn’t sure if I was to read that as Abbey having poor eating habits or the nutritionist not enjoying eating enough.
On top of the “love yourself and it will make you outwardly beautiful” message, is a strong antibullying sentiment. Quinn’s sister suffered from bullying and Quinn himself admitted to being a bullier at school. Abbey lost confidence in herself after an extraordinarily bad experience in college.
The individual set scenes where Quinn and Abbey have heartfelt talks during challenges; the beautiful and thin hostess of the show playing the villain as a vain and horrible person; and a return of a familiar face in Abbey’s life makes it easy to guess where the big moments in the book will be. Those elements serve to make an interesting book rather mundane. C