Study Guide

Shanti Singh (Miss California) in Beauty Queens

By Libba Bray

Shanti Singh (Miss California)

Type A

Shanti is competitive. She's out to win. Her mind always focused on her goal. Yes, that's all saying the same thing. But that's just how committed she is. And it's also a big part of why it takes her longer than the other girls to let loose and get comfortable.

When her coach, Mrs. Mirabov, evaluated Shanti's competitive personality, she deemed it unlikeable. "You are efficient and ambitious, which is good for KGB agent; not so much for teen beauty queen." (8.68)

Shanti took the idea that she isn't likeable pretty hard, so for most of the book she clings to the story Miss Mirabov made up for her, which is all about her being an immigrant. She even changes her voice to make it sound more like a British-inflected Indian accent.

Keeping up that persona for days on the island takes a lot of work. Competitive Shanti can't let her guard down. It gets pretty stressful, to the point where she "wondered if her actual talent was fraud." (8.75) She isn't sure who she is anymore without the carefully crafted identity she's been claiming is her own.

B-side

There is another side of Shanti, though, that's a little less competitive. A side that wishes she could be a DJ: "Everything in my life has always been about the goal, about being perfect and not letting the seams show. But, like, with Dj-ing? It's about finding that groove. It's like you have to play around." (17.49) This dream is so special to Shanti that she's never said it out loud before.

It takes sinking in actual quicksand for Shanti to let loose, revealing her true valley girl voice to Nicole. After revealing that, plus the real reason why she's been hard on Nicole (she doesn't think the judges will let two non-white contestants into the top five), she relaxes a little.

After that is when her friendship with Nicole really blossoms, and Shanti's DJ dream comes out for the first time. "I'm not saying I'm not, like, totally Type A. I just need a B side, too." (17.56) Kind of like two sides of a record. Ancient music technology pun, anyone?

At the end we learn that when Shanti grows up, she'll get to indulge both sides: she'll start her own company but also DJ on weekends. Turns out that once she stops worrying about being likeable, there's enough personality to really jam to.

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