Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Book Report: Makeovers at the Beauty Counter of Happiness by Ilene Beckerman

The last gasp of the back cover featuring Carmen Miranda, Mother Teresa, and Amelia Earhart, oh my.

You can't not like a book called Makeovers at the Beauty Counter of Happiness.  It has so much promise, so much uncorked sparkle, and even better yet, lives up to it.  Still, this bite-sized book isn't all lip gloss and lattes.  There's depth here, stirring thoughts lurking beneath the layers of blush and foundation.  And it's no wonder, as it's authored by Ilene Beckerman, the same woman who brought us the equally bittersweet memoir Love, Loss, and What I Wore.

In a nutshell (or should I say compact?), the conflict of Makeovers at the Beauty Counter of Happiness centers around Ilene being invited to her 50-year elementary school class reunion and all the insecurities that arise.  If you're anything like me, then you're wondering who the heck has an elementary school class reunion, and my answer would be a New York City elementary school for kids with high IQs.  Pretty intriguing, no?  I'd read a book about just that.  But Makeovers at the Beauty Counter of Happiness isn't about the exquisite pain of being a baby genius.  It's about a different kind of challenge, namely women's cross to bear in living up to impossible standards of beauty.  Ilene vents her frustrations in charming, unsent letters to celebrities, historical figures, and her eleven-year-old granddaughter.

Three things I like about Ilene: she wears red lipstick, she laughs at herself, and she didn't start writing professionally until she was almost 60.  It's such pearls that keep me going.

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