Book Review: Modelland by Tyra Banks (Chapters 25 and 26)
Chapter 25: One Bee-Yotchhhh
I’m not sure I’m going to get over the stupidity of that chapter title.
We’re in Catwalk Corridor and Tyra couldn’t even be bothered to come up with a cat pun? I’m sorely disappointed in you, Ms. Banks.
Before long, Tookie, Shiraz and Piper are surrounded by cats. And not just any cats. They talk, have painted claws and worst of all, human faces. It’s about as nightmare-inducing as the cast of Cats, just without all the music.
Tookie notices that all the cats look like past Intoxibellas. In fact, they are past Intoxibellas who have been sent by the BellaDonna to Catwalk Corridor to be “domesticated” for acting “catty to each other. (See, cat puns are not that hard, Tyra.) Depending on whether or not you’re a cat person, that could be the worst punishment ever. But hey, at least you get to lick your butt without anyone saying anything. And that’s exactly what one cat does.
“Whatchoo lookin’ at, nosey? Can’t I bathe in peace without your ugly butt staring at my beauty and my booty?”
How are the girls changed into cats? Tookie asks that exact same question and here is the response:
The cats didn’t answer.
AKA Tyra hasn’t quite figured out why this is happening. Perhaps it’ll be explained in book 2.
Several odd things happen all at once in this sequence. Zarpessa and Chaste suddenly end up in Catwalk Corridor as well, and one cat pees on Zarpessa. Being homeless though, I’m not sure she really minds. Tookie is actually allergic to cats so there’s some character development for you. And for some reason, the cats begin offering pills to the girls. I think this is supposed to be a reference to drug dealers in back alleys, but really, all I can think about is the Matrix.
And then this happens:
The felines pounced and landed on top of Tookie’s head. Tookie felt their claws dig into her mouth and she screamed in pain again. She gazed across the room at Piper.
It’s moments like that when I think of the book inevitably becoming a movie and wonder how a director would handle that particular scene.
The girls’ attempt to escape Catwalk Corridor are thwarted when they’re stopped by a giant BellaDonna lion face that spews fire out of its nose, and that all the cats are praying to. I am not exaggerating that at all. That’s really what’s happening in the book.
The Aslan from Hell scolds the Intoxibella Cats for not behaving like dignified people even after she’s gone to all the trouble of turning them into cats.
“There. Is. Room. For. Only. One. Bee-yotchhh,” yowled the BellaDonna
And then all the cats disappear by jumping into the BellaDonna’s eye sockets. I wish I was making that up.
But it gets weirder. The girls are now stuck in Catwalk Corridor and need to find a way out.
After all the cats vanished, the lion opened its mouth even wider and extended its tongue out like a cushy red carpet. Its jagged teeth dripped saliva and its hot breath blew through the girls’ hair.
“Oh, screw it,” Tookie blurted out. She walked up to the tongue, stepped on it, and walked toward the teeth. “I guess we follow the taste-bud raod.” Tookie walked past the teeth into the throat of the lion . . . and emerged in the hallway of the D.”
That’s . . . really weird, Tyra. I don’t know where you think of these things or what kind of mind-blowing symbolism is behind it (if there is any), but this chapter is just really weird. And oddly enough, sorely disappointing. Catwalk Corridor, the big bad place you built up at the beginning of the novel and during your fashion editorial, is just an alley full of cats who offer you pills, insults and scratch marks? I guess I shouldn’t have expected much more, but it really doesn’t seem that threatning. The person who probably was threatened the most was Tookie and that’s because she broke into hives. But she seemed pretty fine by the end. Fine enough to say “Screw it.”
Chapter 26: The Porcelain Pact
I hope this chapter has something to do with toilets.
So after that little detour that will never be mentioned again, the girls are still on their quest to find Dylan, and surprise, she’s in the bathroom.
Knees touched the cold marble floor at the last stall nearest the wall. Tookie opeend the door. Dylan was crouched over the toilet moaning. Her hair hung down, obscuring her face. The tops of her hair were dripping wet. The floor was splattered with bile and bits of expelled half-digested food. Along with the ends of her hair, the front of her uniform was soaked.
“It . . . came back . . .”
I’m pretty sure she’s talking about an eating disorder that came back and not the food she just had for lunch in the cafeteria. But what do you expect after your food-eating teacher labels you a Shoveler?
I understand that eating disorders are serious, and Tyra does too, but the tonal shift in this book is giving me a headache. You can’t put something like this after a chapter that had cats bowing down to a golden lion idol with a human face that has fire coming out of its nose. It just doesn’t work.
Or if you do, at least put sub-headings on the chapters. Something like “One Bee-yotchhhh: This chapter is silly” and then “The Porcelain Pact: This chapter is Serious.” That way, I know what’s coming and I don’t have to feel weird about whether I should find some girl kneeling in her own vomit strikingly similar to the praying cats the chapter before.
Anyway, this is the part of the book that turns into the Tyra Show. Like, it’s right out of an episode she did, I swear.
All of the girls gather around to console Dylan and each talks about their baggage. Piper, the albino girl, shows a photograph of her wearing lots of makeup to make her look tanner and more colorful. Shiraz takes out an advertisement of the singing show her and her dad used to put on. But she’s burned a hole through her dad’s face because he’d call her “runt” or “dwarf” or “preemie,” even though he said these were affection words.
But then Shiraz’s mother got sick and died. And then her father died of a broken heart because her mother died.
“Papa leave me. So I’m cutting him out of my life, leave him too.”
Man, this is some pretty intense stuff right here. I feel like I’m in a therapy session. But then, it’s Tookie’s turn and, in standard Tookie fashion, she has to top them all. She takes out a letter she wrote to herself telling her how worthless she is and that she should just kill herself. All of the other girls are stunned.
She bawls her eyes out in Piper’s lap as the other three girls forget their petty problems and console the main character. It’s a beautiful moment as they all sit there hugging in a pile of vomit.
- The cats start eating Tookie’s leg because it tastes like whipped cream. Like a lot of things in this novel, it doesn’t make any sense.
- The girls come up with a name for their group:
“How about the Krapper Sisters?” Dylan joked, lookign at the soiled toilet and disgusting floor they all were sitting on. “What about the Unicas?” Tookie said. She pronounced it “you-KNEE-KUZ.”
Eh, Krapper Sisters was way catchier.
- Some excerpts from Tookie’s letter to herself:
What is the point of you even existing? Of breathing this earth’s precious air, which rots each time you exhale? Why are you even writing this right now? What is the point of you even lingering any longer? Of using up ink and killing trees to record thougths that no one will ever care to see? I hope you go to sleep tonight and don’t wake up. Oh, how beautiful the world will be tomorrow, with you dead. Oh, I can’t wait . . .