Just Like Beauty by Lisa Lerner
A Novel

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A darkly comic-and surprisingly sweet-coming-of-age story set in the dystopic suburban near-future

It's morning in America. A plague of mutant grasshoppers invades a hopelessly artificial landscape. Bands of teenage boys run amok, and citizens regularly drop dead from toxic exposure or cultish voluntary suicide. And down in the "family nook," fourteen-year-old Edie Stein is training fiercely for her town's annual Feminine Woman of Conscience Pageant, in which adolescent girls compete in the erotic and other womanly arts. Yet no matter how expertly her mother coaches, Edie's having trouble arousing her practice dummy. Her heart's just not in it.

Growing up has never been easy. But when the landscape around you has become as surreal as the treacherous emotional terrain within, you might contemplate desperate measures-enrolling in submarine school, running off with the girl next door, doing a Happy Ending.

Just Like Beauty is not so much science fiction as a pitch-perfect sendup of the way we live now. In the mold of Don Delillo's White Noise, it offers a trenchant look at where our current enslavement to commodification and technology is taking us. But at its heart it is also a tender and believable portrait of the persistence of love and longing in an increasingly inauthentic world.

About Lisa Lerner

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Lisa Lerner has published essays and short fiction in Self, Bust, and other publications. This is her first novel. She lives in New York City.
Published January 1, 2002 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 272 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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The day of the pageant draws closer, but Edie wants less and less to do with it, what with spending all her time trying to be with Lana, avoiding the Blowtorchers—the local gang who love nothing more than to bother and possibly disfigure pageant girls—and dealing with her mother’s mounting neuroses.

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Publishers Weekly

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Initially, the futuristic brand-naming (Just Like Meat Planet restaurants, Just Like Beans, Sin Concealer makeup) is trying, but eventually Lerner relaxes her send-up showcasing and lets her characterizations of Edie and her family and friends shine through.

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