Title: Beauty and the Bin
Author: Joanne O’Connell
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Genre: Middle-grade contemporary
Published: 18th February 2021
Spoiler Level: Low | This review contains minor details about the characters and plot of this novel that can be found on the blurb.
#gifted | I received an advanced copy of Beauty and the Bin in exchange for an honest review.
Beauty and the Bin is an incredible middle-grade contemporary novel about a young girl navigating friendship, her beauty brand ambitions and her parents, whose well-meaning but embarrassing actions threaten to jeopardise Laurie’s image at school. It is fun, heartwarming and full of eco-friendly tips.
This novel really captures what it is like to be 12 years old, constantly worrying about school, friendships and popularity. I really resonated with Laurie’s fears of being left-out in her friendship group due to her other commitments and worries about her image at school. I think a lot of young teenagers will really relate to and find comfort in it. I had almost forgotten how easily embarrassing everything could be at that age, but it all came flooding back when I read about Laurie’s internal cringing at her younger sister and eccentric parents.
The novel centres around a school business competition and Laurie’s amazing beauty products – that came from the bin! It really examines the importance of looking after the planet, preventing food waste and standing up for what you believe in. Laurie is an amazing character and throughout the novel it is clear that she loves her parents, their activism and their eco lifestyle, but still faces moments where she has to wrestle with embarrassment over their more ‘extreme’ methods of highlighting the climate crisis – including dumpster diving and eating food waste left by customers in cafes and restaurants. Laurie’s parents can be over-the-top, but they never feel like caricatures and their lifestyle does lead to some amusing scenes, their activism is not portrayed as laughable or inconceivable.
Beauty and the Bin is full of humour, competition and genuine friendship. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it, both as an enjoyable and fun read for adults, and as a brilliant read for MG readers too. I’m already looking forward to Joanne O’Connell’s next book, Binderella!