Friday, June 17, 2011

Book Review: Cinder and Ella by Melissa Lemon

I love the title: Cinder and Ella. I felt it was quite clever. That is what drew me to this book--and the hope of hunkering down in my chair with a heartwarming remake of a cherished childhood fairytale. If you join me with a similar expectation with this book, you might be disappointed. But if you want to read a book that throws story structure to the wind and concentrates more on teaching a lesson, then perhaps this book is for you.

Cinder and Ella are the only two functioning souls of a disfuctional fariytale family. The father has followed the evil prince to the castle and is absent from the home. (His reasons and involvemnt in evil are never explained leaving me feeling cheated in that arena of the story). The mother is a one-demensional character who is ALWAYS at her spinning wheel and does not give her kids any attention. Two other sisters are selfish, demanding, and unlikeable. Cinder accepts a job at the castle, leaving Ella to take care of her jacked-up family by herself.

I started out with high hopes for the MC, Ella (At least I assumed she was the main character. The point of view shifts in the story became quite distracting at times). After her sister leaves for the castle, and has dumped the responsibility of the disfunctionaly family on her shoulders, Ella decides to leave because she is not appreciated. I at first saw this as a character with some backbone, ready to set off in the world and perhaps help her family in a round about way. But Ella's challenges didn't seem to help her grow, they were just there. Her romance with a kind knight came too easily. At the end of the book, she was the same Ella as at the first of the story and her disfunctional family was still disfunctional. Even though the prince was finally banished from the kingdom, her father never changed. At the end of the story I asked myself, "What was that all about?"

And then I turned the page. At the end of the book there were questions for disscussion, I guess for use in reading groups, etc. As I read down the list of questions it was obvious that the author's intent in writing this story was to be used as an object lesson rather than entertainment. So if you like to read books with an agenda to teach a lesson, you might enjoy this book. As for me, I was looking for a storytale-like story similar to the Goose Girl by Shannon Hales. Because of my expectation, I was dissapointed.

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