Power comes from being in the limelight. That’s the lesson Miranda Ford takes away from her second-runner-up win at the 18th annual Miss Daviess County Fair Pageant. As the winner and first-runner-up involuntarily step aside, Miranda becomes queen—a position she’s determined never to lose.
Two decades, a husband and three children later, Miranda Ford Miller wants her 9-year-old daughter, Bailey, to take center stage. Nothing will get in Miranda’s way—not Bailey’s growing disinterest in pageants, husband Ray’s hectic schedule with two full-time jobs or the expenses the family’s 14 credit cards can barely accommodate.
Or will it? In the rip-roaring Pretty Ugly, Emmy-nominated writer and producer Kirker Butler writes of the Southern child-pageant circuit with all the acerbic, snarky wit he’s brought to shows such as “Family Guy.”
Butler turns a gimlet eye to each family member’s motivation and conflict. Miranda pours everything into Bailey’s career, including purchasing a gym membership complete with private pole-dancing lessons. However, Bailey is ready to retire from the pageant circuit, and so she sabotages her mom’s efforts by binge-eating. Ray’s nursing and hospice jobs allow him easy access to all the pills he can pop, as well as a young mistress. Miranda’s mom, seventh-grade-educated Joan, homeschools the boys to save them from the horrors of public education. Miranda, meanwhile, is sure that the daughter she now carries will be the answer to everything.
Butler’s debut novel is a smart, sarcastic portrayal of a dysfunctional American family—one that’s sure to have readers eager for more.