Beauty Shop for Rent

Hypothetical Question of the Week: If you were forced to have an extra body part implanted on your back, which would you choose? A finger, ear, breast or nose?

Abbey Garner is used to killing time by reading questions from the snarky tabloids in Granny Po’s struggling beauty shop. It’s not like there are a lot of customers to help, anyway. Mostly just the feisty Gray Widows, who are there to primp, polish, perm . . . and, of course, gossip.

Abbey is there to work–to get a head start on the million dollars she intends to earn by the time she’s thirty-five. She doesn’t have time for boyfriends, parties, or hanging out with friends. But with the arrival of a trendy young woman who rents the beauty parlor and turns it into a modern-day spa, at least Abbey has a chance to make some real money. This plan fades into the background when Abbey’s mother, who abandoned her on Granny Po’s doorstep four years ago, suddenly shows up with a wild scheme of her own.

In her debut novel, Laura Bowers has written a hilarious and heartbreaking story about family–both the one we are born to and the one we create for ourselves.

“…Teens will find Abbey’s emotional turmoil rings true, as does the reason behind her final act of forgiveness. But it’s the multigenerational friendships-the feisty, sniping conversations with Granny Po and her close circle of friends, “The Widows,” brim with humor-that make Bowers’s first novel a delight.”–starred review, Publisher’s Weekly

The beauty is in the writing. The beauty is in the plotting. The beauty is in all of the characters, especially the protagonist. Readers will root for sweet, savvy Abbey, who is trying desperately not to follow in the tragic footsteps of the three generations of women before her. … Step into this BEAUTY SHOP FOR RENT for a good, clean read that will tickle your funny bone, massage your mind, and warm your heart. Highly recommended for teens and adults.” Bildungsroman

Bank Street College Best Books of the Year list, 2007

Nominated for:

South Dakota State Library’s 2009-10 YARP Reading List
Missouri Association of School Librarians 2009-10 Gateway Readers Award
New York State Reading Association’s 2010 Charlotte Award
Eliot Rosewater 2009-10 Award
Volunteer State 2009-10 Book Award
The Kentucky 2009 Book Award

Click here for more reviews!

ISBN-13: 978-0-15-205764-0
ISBN-10: 0-15-205764-1

For fun, check out this character quiz! Or, take a glimpse at my History of Hair Lessons Learned. And, if you’re curious about how much of my life leaked into the story, read my Fact or Fiction post!

For teachers and readers, here’s a fun discussion guide.


I’ll be a millionaire by the time I turn thirty-five. Successful. Independent. Abbey Garner–self-made financial genius. Then, and only then, will I consider getting married and having kids.

Not like my mom, who traded her pom-poms for diaper duty at the age of sixteen. Only two years older than me and walking around high school with the scarlet letters D-O-O-M-E-D etched on her forehead. Not like my grandmother Evelyn Somers, pregnant with my mom at seventeen. Or my great-grandmother Polly Randall, having a daughter at sixteen.

Of course, Granny Po said her generation got married young, had children young, and that’s the end of that, but I think there’s more to the story.

I think it’s a curse. Not only the women in my family inherit overly fertile eggs, they each married men who were total, complete, and absolute duds.

But it all stops with me.

I’m not going to continue the family tradition. Two simple rules will guarantee I won’t. Number one: Be financially successful so I’ll never have to rely on anybody but myself. Number two: Always remember that fairy-tale endings rarely last after the final page. It’s sad, but true, and after hearing all my mother’s stories, I should know. I’ve seen what happens when love ends and desperation begins.

So I’m lucky. Most people don’t know their future until they’re too old to do anything about it. I do. The story of my life will never be written by a curse.

And never by a man.


  1. I am reading “Beauty Shop for Rent” for a book report and I love it, and can hardly put it down which is weird because I hate reading. I would like to know some more books that you have written that are similar to this book.

  2. Thanks, Abbie, for your lovely comments and I’m glad you’re enjoying my book! You might also be interested in my latest release, JUST FLIRT, which has the same happy kind of vibe. Good luck with your book report, and keep on reading!
    Laura Bowers

  3. I finished the rest of the book and loved it, over Christmas break I and going to read “Just Flirt” even though it looks like a summer book, but I don’t care. Thanks to you I actually am starting to enjoy reading.


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