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Fairest of Them All

If daily life have been a fairy tale, Oribella Bettencourt would have a “fortunately actually after” sort of foreseeable future in advance of her. A Hollywood producer has appear to Des Moines in lookup of a properly modern-day Princess Rapunzel, and Ori — a design, dancer, and star of the attractiveness pageant circuit — lands the element. And why shouldn’t she? With her hardworking, self-sacrifi cing mom guiding her profession, Ori is spectacular, dedicated, poised…and then there’s her hair. Breathtakingly lustrous blond hair that sets her aside from all the other women at college. So what if she isn’t going to have any friends her age, or anybody to chat to other than her mom? She’s on the verge of possessing anything she’s at any time dreamed of. But in this fairy tale, the gorgeous princess wakes up

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  1. K. Butler "Katie's Book Blog"
    4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Fairest Of Them All, July 7, 2009

    This review is from: Fairest of Them All (Paperback)

    Oribella Bettencourt is going to be famous. She just knows that her modeling and dancing careers are going to land her the role in an upcoming movie and her acting career will just take off after that.

    All her life she has prepared for this. Her mom has spent so much time and money on all her pageants and recitals. Now it’s finally Oribella’s turn to pay her back for all her support.

    But what happens when Oribella starts to lose her hair? There is no need for bald actresses or models. And how is she supposed to hide it until it starts to grow back?

    When Oribella finally confesses to her mom that her hair is falling out, everything seems like it will just get better from there. That is, until the doctor tells them that Ori has Alopecia Areata, a condition that will cause her hair to stop growing and continue to fall out.

    When Ori finally realizes that there is nothing she can do she decides to change her attitude. She begins to make friends and focus on her schoolwork. But no matter what she does her mom won’t even speak to her.

    Will Ori find a way to reconnect with her mom? Will she finally find a place she belongs with a new group of friends?

    Fairest Of Them All was a great story about finding yourself and what really matters in life. I admit that I really didn’t like Oribella’s character at the beginning of the book and almost gave up. DO NOT GIVE UP. It does get better. I was so glad that I decided to stick it out because it had a great ending.

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  2. TeensReadToo "Eat. Drink. Read. Be Merrier."
    2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Courtesy of Teens Read Too, April 16, 2009
    TeensReadToo “Eat. Drink. Read. Be Merrier.” (All Over the US & Canada) –

    This review is from: Fairest of Them All (Paperback)

    Gold Star Award Winner!

    Oribella Bettencourt has it all. At least looking outside in, everyone assumes she’s got it all.

    Ever since she was a toddler, she’s been groomed to be a star. She has taken dance and modeling classes. She’s gorgeous, and her crowning glory (literally her Crowning Glory, as she won the title in a pageant) is her long golden tresses. Her lovely hair has even landed her a supporting actress role in a Razzi’s Tale. Her hair was so important in landing her the role that there is a clause in her contract prohibiting her to do anything to her hair. She’s going to be a star – and all of her mother’s sacrifices will have been worth it.

    When Oribella notices a few small clumps of hair have fallen out, at first she panics. But she reads up on hair loss and chalks it up to stress and poor nutrition. She pampers her hair even more, putting as little pressure on it as possible, and renews her efforts to reduce stress and eat better. After all, models have to stay thin and are known to constantly be dieting.

    But when Gypsy, a rival at her dance class, makes a comment about a bald spot on Oribella’s scalp, her nightmare just begins. When Oribella finally confesses to her mother, months after the initial hair loss, they embark on rounds of treatments to reverse her alopecia (hair loss.)

    Just as her hair is unraveling from her head, Oribella’s dreams are coming apart at the seams. Her bright future was within her grasp, only to be ripped apart at the finish line.

    With her future changed, Oribella and her mother begin to dance around each other. Neither knows where they fit into each other’s world, with the life of pageants and acting now gone. But for Oribella, the loss of her dreams isn’t the total end. She realizes she is lonely and longs for a real teenage life. She is thrust into a world she’s unfamiliar with…high school. Previously, she attended school simply to keep the authorities happy. But she was unconcerned with fitting in or achieving good grades. After all, if she was going to be a star, why would she need it?

    Ms. Blazanin writes an amazing book looking at the true meaning of beauty. Oribella struggles to rewire her thought processes to get beyond the outer beauty of everything. She was brought up to look for imperfections. But when she becomes friends with the most unlikely group of girls, Oribella has to learn the hard way what it means to a friend and be a team player.

    Ms. Blazanin takes a horrific event in Oribella’s life and educates the reader on a little known condition, alopecia areata. It takes a lot of guts for Oribella to embrace her new situation and become an entirely different person. The reader gets to watch Oribella grow and blossom into a true beauty by the end of the story.

    Reviewed by: Jaglvr

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  3. Busy Bookblogger
    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    What’s on the Inside?, April 30, 2012
    Busy Bookblogger (Alabama) –

    This review is from: Fairest of Them All (Paperback)

    Oribella Bettencourt seems to have it all, sort of. She’s a successful model, dancer, and soon-to-be movie star. Other than the fact the she has no friends (other than her mom) and her teachers think her IQ resides somewhere below sea level, things are pretty good. In fact, when she wins the Ms. Crowining Glory pageant and her beautiful blonde locks help her land a role in a major movie, Ori thinks she’s the luckiest girl on the planet. But Ori’s luck is running out because soon after signing a movie contract swearing not to change her appearance in any way Ori’s hair begins to fall out.

    After trying desperately to keep her situation a secret Ori is diagnosed with Alopecia, a disease with no known cure. Painful treatments and an even more painful change in her relationship with her mom are almost more than Ori can take. Ori’s whole identity has been based on being “the beautiful one” always at the center of attention, so when she loses her locks and her looks, who is she? Has she lost all of her future hopes, dreams and her mother’s love along with her hair?

    I literally could not put this one down and read it all in one sitting! In her debut novel, Jan Blazanin covers a fresh new issue that teens can relate to and empathize with. Having a niece with Alopecia I am full aware of how devastating this particular disease can be as well as the severe lack of literature and research on it-to say I was thrilled to read a YA novel on the topic would be an understatement.

    Ori’s journey from beauty queen to class freak is heartwarming and heart-wrenching all at once. When she loses control of her outside appearance, Ori is forced to take a long hard look at who she is on the inside. The author sheds light on the beauty-driven culture we live in without passing judgment or beating readers over the head with the famous “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” slogan. Blazanin beautifully captures the voice of her bright, bold, protagonist in a realistic story about personal identity. Blazanin reminds readers that sometimes circumstances beyond our control help us to discover who we truly are.

    On a final note, what struck me most was Ori’s lack of a love interest, Blazanin chooses instead to focus on the mother-daughter relationship. I found this to be a refreshing change and was captivated by the mother-daughter dynamic in Fairest of Them All. As Ori “finds herself” she also finds herself at odds with her best friend and career manager, her mom. Readers will both pity and despise Ori’s mom throughout this novel. The two of them have a lot of growing up to do and readers of all ages will be both entertained and educated as they follow Ori’s story.

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