Friday, March 24, 2023

Jennifer Donnelly Does It Again

I have been a fan of Jennifer Donnelly since I read Revolution, which is one of my favorite books (something a reader doesn't say lightly). It is mentioned in three of my previous blogs (2/5/13, 3/7/15, 12/3/17) because I hold other YA historical fiction books to that standard. I've also read some of her other works: A Northern Light (reviewed 10/29/17), These Shallow Graves, and The Tea Rose. I intend to read all of her books, eventually.

I haven't looked for anything new from Donnelly since she wrote the mermaid ones, so you can imagine my surprise and delight when I saw her name on the only two books that caught my eye at our school's Scholastic Book Fair: Stepsister and Poisoned. The covers attracted me, and the author's name cinched the sales. 

I just finished reading Stepsister, and I absolutely loved it! The story begins where the stepsisters in Cinderella cut parts off of their feet in order to try to fit into the glass slipper. We all know how that turned out, but we don't know what happened to the stepsisters after that. 

The story is about what happens to the stepsisters after Ella (as she's called in the book) rides away with the prince to her new life. While we hear about the stepmother and the other stepsister throughout the book, the story primarily focuses on only one of them, Isabelle. 

I don't want to give anything away because I was delighted at exactly how Donnelly chose to set the story up. I also love that none of the story claims that the story of Cinderella, as we know it, was different or wrong in a way that "twisted fairy tales" often claim. This wonderfully written tale just continues the story of Isabelle, while also flashing back from time to time to scenes from her childhood to help explain a few things from her past.

Who would I recommend this book to? Everyone. I mean, it's certainly appropriate for 10 years old and up, but it's just a really good story for anyone. I don't know if you know how rare it is these days for me to find something that's just a really great story that would work for students from 6th grade to 12th grade, but this one would. I know not everyone loves fairy tales, but it's so much more than that. I also think guys would like this book. There are male characters that play major secondary roles in the story. There's also fighting and battles and...just a good mix of things that make an interesting and adventurous story.

I talked about this one so much, my middle daughter is now reading this one on her Kindle Paperwhite (she's over 30), and I just sent a paper copy to my sister-in-law (she's over 50). Not my copy, of course. My copy is here with me. The first photo in this blog was taken before I read the book, see the second photo to know what it looks like now.

I didn't expect to tab this one, but the writing was just too good to resist flagging a few excerpts I want to refer back to later and share with friends and students. 

I'm really looking forward to reading Poisoned, but I'm holding off for now because I don't want this type of tale to be over too soon. I devoured Stepsister in one day. I didn't mean to, but I got carried away during my Spring Break. No regrets, though, I completely enjoyed that day. :)

Happy reading!

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