Olivia can’t remember life without pageants. After all, she has been competing in them since she was only 3 years old. Her mom is not as crazy as some of the pageant moms who’ve made the show Toddlers and Tiaras so infamous, but she is still pretty pushy. She allows Olivia to eat anything she wants and doesn’t worry about dieting, for example, but she also pressures Olivia to practice her walking, smiling, singing, and interview skills for hours a day.
One day, after church, Olivia had a chance encounter with a runaway boy named Danny. When she walked outside to get a little time alone, she heard someone calling out from the toolshed. Danny was hiding there while he waited for a connecting bus to Chicago, and he was really hungry. After Olivia snuck him some food, the two started talking. Danny, apparently, ran away because his mom was pressuring him to take shots of growth hormones [since he was extremely small for his age] even though he didn’t want the painful treatments. Olivia understood all too well how it felt to be judged by appearance alone, and she worried that Danny would not be safe traveling alone… So, to help her new friend, and to escape the pressures of her own life, Olivia went along with Danny to Chicago. I thought this was a great story about love — not only romantic love love, but also learning to love yourself and learning to love your family members despite their flaws.