Minda’s pregnant review of Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly
**We received a copy of this from Bookcon! We’d like to thank Jennifer and Scholastic for the opportunity**
Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe … which is now filling with blood.
When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.
Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.
Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.
Synopsis from Goodreads
What I drank prior: Tonight I had a fancy lemonade-something mocktail. When life gives you lemons, amirite? 🍋
Spoiler-free Overview: The book picks up where the real tale of Cinderella ends—the stepsisters have just cut off pieces of their foot to try to fit into the glass slipper and win the hand of the prince on their mother’s wishes. The younger stepsister, Isabelle, must unravel what went wrong in her life and find the pieces of her heart to make it right again. To raise the stakes, Izzy’s life and the lives of her friend and family is at stake and only she can save them.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: Honestly, it might be pregnancy hormones, but so much happy crying! I really, really loved this book. The retelling of Cinderella was more of a feminist work was spot-on and I appreciated that this was incorporated. I think there was a good balance of acknowledging Isabelle’s role in her own life, but also the outside factors that affect one’s outlook.
Characters: OF COURSE Isabelle is just the best. Once she sheds her preconceived notion of what it means to be a woman that is. I also liked that Ella isn’t all she seems either, and her sister, Octavia. The love interest also adds some spice to the mix *swoon*. The personification of Fate and Chance was pretty great, too. I loved that all the scenes with Chance were so bonkers.
Plot: We follow Isabelle, the younger strong-willed and defiant stepsister, after the fallout of the glass slipper incident. The whole town hates her, she has no husband prospects, and Fate isn’t on her side. She has tried to be demure and pretty, but to no avail. She is finally give a Chance when the forest queen offers her her deepest wish—if she can find the missing pieces of her heart. So begins Isabelle’s exciting journey as she tries and stumbles to find out what they are, even as a war is being waged around her and creeps closer to her town.
World Building: I thought it was great. I loved the feminist retelling aspect. I was really invested in how everything turned out.
Writing Style: I listened to this on audio and thought it was solid. The voices were funny. Though I will say there were WAY too many chapter breaks.
—SPOILERS Don’t read! Or do, live your life—
Did anyone else think the lack of a battle at the end was a bit of a letdown? Ah well, the epic face off with Folkmar kind of made up for it. I loved that she used her smarts and his prejudices to her advantage to win!
Ella’s admission was a good surprise—I liked it and the forgiveness. So adorbs! Also, I wasn’t crying, you were crying when Isabelle was named Grand Duchess…
What to pair it with: I’d select a unique red wine blend, a perfect pairing
Rating: 5/5 – I throughly enjoyed this book!