Release Date: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre: Young Adult
A modern, multi-generational tale of Kendra, the witch from "Snow White," who trains Violet, an ugly, lonely, and heartbroken girl in the 1980s who transforms herself into "the fairest one of all" but still cannot win Greg's heart, and Celine, Greg's daughter with Violet's high school rival, Jennifer.
This book was such an unexpected and wonderful surprise. I have loved some of Alex Flinn's previous fairytale retellings, but this one stands out for so many reasons. There is so much going on here than just a mere retelling. Flinn took the fairytale of Snow White, retold it in modern times, but took it to an entirely new level.
From the very beginning, I knew it was going to be different because the story is told in three parts, and from three different perspectives. The first part is told by Violet, who is the evil stepmother in this story. The second part is told by Celine, who would be the Snow White equivalent and the third is told by Goose, the "little person" who befriended her and helped take care of her. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Getting to see Violet's point of view gave the reader something that other Snow White retellings never gave us. We were able to see inside the mind of the person who became the evil stepmother. Ugly, labeled a freak, ignored, and bullied, Violet is a character to be sympathized with and pitied. And I did pity her. I felt so badly for her. She loves a boy from the time she's a child, and this person is her only friend, the only person who cares for her. As he grows more beautiful, he begins to pull away from her. This girl felt that if only she could be beautiful, she would be accepted, noticed, loved. But obviously things aren't going to work out that way exactly. Her journey toward what she eventually becomes was fascinating and heartbreaking.
Then you have Celine, who is so beautiful that her beauty is all that people see. She hates her beauty because she wants to be noticed and loved for who she is. She was an amazing character because although she had some spunk to her, and she wasn't angelic to the point of being a doormat to her stepmother's evil, there was such a goodness in her that she still could forgive and care.
Then there was Goose, whose small size contains a huge heart, a beautiful, funny and quirky personality that you just love from the moment you meet him. He sticks by Celine through everything. I'll stop there so I don't reveal too much.
I loved how carefully interwoven with the story was the message and theme that beauty means nothing. All three main characters in this story look at beauty a different way, and I felt that the author was challenging us to look beyond the surface, to see what is loveable about individuals around us and not place such emphasis on a person's exterior. It was a beautiful message, and so very well told in this story.
I loved the way Alex Flinn interpreted the Snow White story, I loved the characters, even the villain, and I loved the themes and how the author wrote them so beautifully into the story. This was a fast-paced, gorgeously written story that left me wanting more. It had emotional depth that I wasn't expecting, and it had me wanting to go re-read all my Alex Flinn books. Just beautiful.