Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review: Fairest Of Them All

Fairest Of Them All
By Jan Blazanin
Publication date: April 2009

My review:

Oribella grows up in a world of beauty and hard work. Even though she has had to give up the elements of a normal life like friends, dating, and other types of fun, Oribella enjoys what she is doing, especially dancing. The opportunity to star in a movie, even as a younger version of the main female lead, is the chance of a lifetime. Oribella and her mother Rhonda can see the fruition of their dreams. When Ori's hair begins to fall out however, everything comes crashing down around her. Ori feels adrift because she doesn't have any friends and her career was her life. Losing her hair may seem like the worst thing that could happen to her but it forces Ori to confront some hard truths about herself. With the help of some unexpected new friends, Ori slowly begins to see that it isn't the end of the world and beauty isn't everything.

Ori goes through a hard time with her hair loss and even before that she is teased and taunted by her classmates. However she is not always a sympathetic character. In fact it is hard to like her at times because of her obsession with appearance. Slowly as the book progresses Ori starts to realize how she judges others based on appearance and how her life has been unhealthy due to her commitment to her work. Ori gets help adjusting to her new life from Philomena, the daughter of her agent. Phil is the complete opposite of Ori. She does not pay attention to her looks at all. However she is a talented athlete and she has a strong group of friends-something Ori sorely lacks. I liked Phil a lot more than Ori but through Phil's influence, Ori grows as a character.

The relationship between Ori and her mom is also central to the story. Rhonda's own mother was beautiful and she left Rhonda to go to Hollywood and pursue her dreams. This abandonment and her feelings of inferiority have caused Rhonda to put pressure on her own beautiful daughter to be a success. Rhonda's views also influenced Ori's beliefs about beauty. I was disappointed with how Rhonda handled the alopecia diagnosis and how she treated Ori after that.

Fairest Of Them All has a great message about true beauty. The journey that Oribella takes during the course of the book helps her to gain a balanced perspective. Being healthy and happy with who you are is more important than trying for physical perfection.

I read and reviewed this book for Body Image and Self Perception Month. I am someone who has alopecia (hair loss), albeit a different type than what Ori suffers from. I cannot imagine how horrifying it would be to suddenly start losing clumps of your hair especially when your career revolves around your looks. The details of Ori's hair loss and the attempted treatments were hard to read about.  My own hair loss is slow and while eventually I will have to wear a wig it will not be overnight. Being a teen with alopecia would be a real challenge. Thankfully there are some great websites out there like the National Alopecia Areata Foundation and organizations like Locks of Love which make wigs for young people with hair loss.

Readalikes: Secrets of Truth and Beauty by Megan Fraser, Pretty Face by Mary Hogan


  1. What an excellent review. I have two friends with alopecia, one is male and has lived with a long time, and the other is female and has been wearing a wig now for a couple of years. This disease is definitely harder on women since hair is seems so important to how females view their beauty, whereas a man can usually pull off being bald. I definitely want to read this book and have it on my self for my students.

  2. Wow, what an interesting-sounding book. I love the topic it deals with! You don't read about that every day. Wonderful review, I'd love to check this out.


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