Saturday, January 8, 2011

Review: Cindy Ella

Robin Palmer
When Cindy Ella Gold writes a scathing anti-Prom letter to the editor of her school's newspaper (and it gets printed!) she becomes the focus of her classmate's mockery. Instead of bridging the gap between the "haves" and "have-nots," as she intended, the letter instead just serves to make Cindy the common enemy of her materialistic, Prom-loving classmates, including her two popular stepsisters.

As you can probably tell from the title, this is a modern retelling of the whole "Cinderella" thing, with a decidedly more opinionated (and anti-fairytale) heroine. Cindy, though she boycotts the Prom, still finds herself dealing with plenty of boy-drama. Her online best friend, the popular boy she's liked since forever, and her new, older tutor she's convinced is her soul mate soulmate. Whatever that means. It would be so easy, in all of this, for Cindy's character to be a complete mess, but the contradictions of her character are presented wonderfully and with humor. Though she fancies herself a "nouveau" feminist and insists that she has deeper thoughts than her classmates, she also freely admits to loving MTV's My Super Sweet 16 and catching only glimpses of big news stories on her way to more interesting things. In some characters this sort of hypocrisy would be insanely annoying, but Cindy manages to approach everything with a healthy dose of humor and though she's opinionated she also seems to realize that she doesn't really know everything. While many of the other characters here, including her two best friends, are a bit one-note, they're also entertaining and un-annoying.

Prom Fever is depicted pretty well here and though it seems a bit extreme at times the superficial and materialistic fictional school Cindy attends is written so well that the extremeness of her fellow students doesn't feel forced. The plot, revolving around Cindy's anti-Prom stance and boy-drama, is cute but predictable. There are a few things that I did find a bit too unreal, such as Cindy and her best friends thinking that it's totally okay for her to contemplate dating a 23-year-old, and the fact that at least three different people close to her thought that she was self-harming for no obvious reason,  but on the whole the book was cute enough for those things to be overlooked. The identity of her online best guy friend is obvious pretty early on but this doesn't take away from how adorable it is when Cindy finally finds out.

Though this book is predictable and more than a little cheesy at times, with a few annoying plot points, it's also incredibly cute and funny, with a realistic and witty main character that I absolutely loved.

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