Your Next Read: Stepsister

Your Next Read by Amy, your Youth Services Librarian!

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Interested in the new titles landing on our shelves? Don’t skip over Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly! This YA novel extends the original Cinderella version to life after Cinderella marries her prince – and it’s much more than a “happily ever after” tale. It is dark. It is grim. It is beautiful.

Blood on the ground! Blood in the shoe!

This is a girl neither honest nor true!

Stepsister follows the lives of Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters after Cinderella marries her prince. The entire village has learned of the sisters’ cutting off bits of their feet to fit into Cinderella’s slipper to deceive the prince and of the evil ways they treated Ella. Now, the village scorns them and the sisters and their Maman are left with nothing but rags and the empty hollows of their hearts. In particular, both the sisters, Isabelle and Octavia, know there is nothing that can be done to fix their situation as neither of them were ever considered beautiful like Ella was even before she married the prince.

“You think yourself very clever, Octavia, but you are not,” Maman said. “Before the prince came for Ella, I had five offers of marriage for her. Five. Even though I turned her into a kitchen girl. Do you know how many I’ve had for you? Zero. Solve that equation, my dear.”

“I’m sorry, Tavi,” Isabella whispered after their Maman left.

“For what?” said Tavi, with a hitch in her voice.

Isabella’s heart ached for her. Steady, logical Tavi never cried. “I’m sorry. I just wanted to help.”

“Do you? Dress my hair, then,” Tavi said brokenly. “Rouge my cheeks. Make me pretty. Can you do that?”

Isabelle didn’t reply. If only she could make Tavi pretty. And herself. How different their lives would be.

But Isabelle wants redemption and seeks to earn it by finding the lost pieces of her heart, which will take her on an adventure that will force her to reconcile her evil past with her hopeless future and look beyond her desire to just be pretty. It will be an adventure that redefines all of France and unites her with a much larger world. But the pieces of her heart might be more difficult to find than Isabelle thinks – especially when her own life is at stake. Does she have the courage to move forward anyway? Because through it all Isabelle must learn it takes more than heartache to break a girl.

Evoking the darker, original version of the Cinderella story, Stepsister shows us that ugly is in the eye of the beholder and uses Jennifer Donnelly’s trademark wit and wisdom to send an over-looked characters on a journey toward empowerment, redemption…and a new definition of beauty.

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