Just Be Gorgeous: A Novel

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9780060263591: Just Be Gorgeous: A Novel

Feeling unattractive, untalented, and misunderstood by her parents, a New York City teenager realizes that she is someone special through her friendship with a homeless street performer.

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From School Library Journal:

Grade 8-12 Wersba has again created one of her unlikely duos in another story of teenage disillusionment set largely on the streets of New York City. Heidi Rosenbloom, 16, is suffering from the advantages of a secure childhood. She sees Jeffrey, a homeless gay street performer with platinum blond hair, blue eyeshadow, and a fur coat, as the only person on earth who can accept her as she is, and she determines to feed, clothe, and somehow bring to stardom her foundling charge. Soon after Heidi is told that Jeffrey ``hasn't got it,'' he and two dancers decide to move to L.A. As they part, Jeffrey encourages Heidi to be the gorgeous person that she truly is. Wersba's strength continues to lie in her understanding of the elements of individualism and eccentrism, and she succeeds in creating in Jeffrey a truly sympathetic and tragically lovable character. Herein is the trouble. Heidi, the principal character, is much less believable, and her problems of receiving a make-up case for Christmas or being asked to wear her red velvet dress are trivial when compared to the fatalism and loneliness of Jeffrey's lifehis homelessness, poverty, victimization, and readers' knowledge of the lack of substance in his hopes. When Jeffrey leaves for L.A., so does much of the story's momentum. However, the sympathetic treatment of Jeffrey and the open discussions that he and Heidi have about her fears concerning his contracting AIDS and being mugged in a shelter show a tender side that is very welcome. While Wersba's fans might be disappointed, Just Be Gorgeous should be popular nevertheless. Joanne Aswell, Long Valley Middle School, N.Y.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Publishers Weekly:

Wersba's first book since the Rita Formica romance trilogy returns to territory she mapped out in earlier works: two misfits find brief happiness together, then go their separate ways. Heidi falls in love with Jeffrey the first time she meets him, despite his blue eyeshadow, fur coat and blithe admission that he is gay. She feels ordinary, of only average talents, and he makes her feel special and beautiful. Jeffrey is homeless, sleeping in an abandoned building each night. By day, he performs on the streets of New York, tap-dancing his heart out and waiting for the big break that will bring him stardom. The sad truth is that he is mediocre on his best days; when an opportunity for him to move to California arises, his apparent indifference to leaving Heidi breaks her heart. This duo will rightly remind many of the pairing in Carnival in My Mind. It doesn't break new ground for Wersba, but she brings readers a welcome message in her generous view of love: it often goes awry, but is never wasted. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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