REVIEW: Pretty Ugly by Kirker Butler
by Kirker Butler
From a producer of Family Guy, a satirical look at a dysfunctional family complete with a stage mom, 9 year-old pageant queen, philandering husband, his girlfriend, and the crazy grandmother.
Miranda Miller’s mission in life is to make sure her nine-year-old daughter, Bailey, continues to be one of the most successful child pageant contestants in the southern United States. Lately, that mission’s been difficult. Bailey has been secretly binge eating to gain weight so Miranda will let her retire; and the reality show Miranda been trying to set up for Bailey (and herself) just went to their biggest rival, Starr Kennedy and her tyrannical stage mother, Theresa.
But Miranda’s got an ace up her sleeve. She’s seven months pregnant with her fourth child, a girl, thank God, and Miranda is going to make damn sure that this one will be a pageant champion, too.
Unbeknownst to her, Miranda’s husband Ray, a nurse with a hobby of popping random pills, has knocked up Courtney, the less than brilliant seventeen-year-old orphan granddaughter of one of his hospice patients. With a wife, a mistress, two jobs, three kids (and two more on the way), a mountain of debt, and no real friends, Ray is desperately hoping his life puts itself back in order.
Meanwhile, the Millers’ two boys are being “homeschooled” by Miranda’s mother, Joan (pronounced Jo-Ann), a well-intentioned widow who spends most of her time playing solitaire and planning a murder with Jesus. Yes, that Jesus.
They’re just your typical dysfunctional American family.
MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
Oh my God, this book was so awful in the most amazing way. It tells the story of young Bailey Miller, pageant queen extraordinaire, and her family. Mom Miranda was a queen in her day but pushes bailey to be even better; dad Ray is hardly ever home due to the time he works to cover Bailey’s costs; grandmother Joan believes she has a personal line to Jesus and waits for his command and advice in everything she does. Meanwhile, Bailey has decided she is done with the glamour life and sneaks chocolate bars when she’s supposed to be practicing.
Nearly every character in this book is a huge caricature of someone Southern–and as a Southern lady myself, I recognized each one. Ray is having an affair with a teenager. Miranda is pregnant but that doesn’t stop her from getting in fistfights. I could really go on and on, but I don’t want to ruin your reading experience. Trust me, the more you get to know the Miller family, the better (worse?) they get.
Don’t go into this book thinking it’s all about the pageant scene–actually not much of the story happens at pageants. The family’s dynamics are the heart here.
I would imagine some people will be thrown off or quickly dismiss Pretty Ugly because its’ characters are such ridiculous stereotypes…don’t do this. I promise, you either know or are one of the people in this book, especially if you are a Southerner.
I subtracted one star because there are a few moments that are predictable, and also because sometimes the author goes off on tangents describing the backgrounds of people we don’t really need to know about. The book is a standout, however, one of the most unique I’ve read lately.
About the Author
Kirker Butler is an Emmy nominated writer and producer. His TV credits include Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, and Galavant among others. Kirker grew up in Kentucky, and now lives in Los Angeles with his family.