Dana reviews Cinderella Boy by Kristina Meister (Published by Riptide Publishing, July 2, 2018, 346 pages.) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
About Cinderella Boy
Being perfect isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Sixteen-year-old Declan is the perfect son . . . except for one tiny issue. When his sister Delia comes home to find him trying on her clothes, he fears her judgment, but she only fears his fashion choices. One quick makeover later, Declan is transformed into Delia’s mysterious cousin Layla and dragged to the party of the year, hosted by Carter, the most popular boy in school.
When Carter meets Layla, he fumbles to charm her. He adores her sense of humor and her poise. But when she vanishes in the middle of the night, he’s left confused and determined to solve the mystery of who she is.
As their school year begins, their high school embraces a policy of intolerance, and both Declan and Carter know they must stand up. Carter is tired of being a coward and wants to prove he can be a knight in shining armor. Declan is sick of being bullied and wants desperately to be himself. If they team up, it could be a fairy-tale ending, or a very unhappy ever after.
I am so glad I requested to review this book! I am a big fan of YA love stories. There is just something so pure about them, and I love the coming of age aspect. Even though many people change a lot after high school, these are their formative years. I’m a good 23 years past my teenage days but I can still remember how it feels to be uncertain of your place. You have to decide whether to keep your head down or whether to stand up and lead. Because learning more about the world and people around you is constant, I find it very easy to relate to these characters.
I also really appreciate this book for the spectrum of sexuality and gender identity that it covers. This feels like a typical high school movie in some ways. A new teenager in school gets a kind of makeover and faces down bullies but ends up very popular. But in this case, the new teenager is a gay boy who is struggling with his gender identity. He loves putting on his sister’s clothes, who when she catches him, comes up with an idea for him to explore who he is more fully. I feel like by the end of this story that it is something that Declan still has to explore, but who he is as Declan and as Layla are only parts of his identity. There are also other non-binary, gay, lesbian, and in Carter’s case maybe, demisexual characters that find themselves unwanted and discriminated against by the principal and school board.
Yes, there are politics involved. School politics, to be specific, but they mirror a lot of what is happening in real life. The principal of this school is a tyrant. He wants students to know their place… under his thumb. I think of the Parkland students, who after suffering losses after yet another school shooting, have stood up to the NRA and the president and said they aren’t going to sit quietly anymore, that their voices deserve to be heard. What happens for Declan, Carter, and the other oppressed students is on a much lesser scale, but as I read about them standing up to the principal and the school board, I felt so awed and excited and I just wanted to cheer them on. I am excited that the real and fictional teens of this world are speaking up, because they are our future. And they seem, for the most part, to be a lot more open minded and concerned about the welfare of others than our government does.
I do have to talk about the characters, for sure. Declan is very interesting. I loved reading about his self discovery, and how he handles the hurdles of being feminine and masculine in a still male dominated society. In the beginning, he definitely would have preferred to keep his head down and hide who he is from the world. It is only a mistake that opens the door to being himself. And he is something – strong, wise beyond his years, and observant. His sister Delia is kind and strong; a great female role model. Her relationship with Declan becomes so much better after discovering him wearing her clothes. So much hiding and hurt had held them apart. I love how she supports her brother as well as her ex, Carter. It could be awkward, but it isn’t, because of how caring she is. Carter almost seems to be too perfect to be true. He is the popular guy in school. He has a good relationship with his mom, he accepts all people for who they are, he is class president, in the running for homecoming king, and he has vision. His passion lays in drafting and working with wood, designing and building beautiful things. It is Declan who can see that he isn’t totally perfect but still a great guy who needs to be truer to himself.
All around, it’s a great story. As a YA novel, it is age appropriate in how much sexual interaction is on page. I felt light in my heart after reading this book. So good, that’s all I can say. Go read it! 🙂
10/10 Pots of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
Kristina Meister is an author of fiction that blurs genre. There’s usually some myth, some mayhem, and some monsters. While Kristina’s unique voice and creative swearing give life to dialogue, her obsession with folklore and pop culture make for humor and complexity.
She and her mad-scientist husband live in California with their poodles Khan and Lana, and their daughter Kira Stormageddon, where they hoard Nerf toys, books, and swords—in case of zombie apocalypse.
Connect with Kristina:
- Website: kristinameister.com
- Twitter: @kristinameister
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kristina.meister
To celebrate the release of Cinderella Boy, Kristina is giving away a canvas swag bag (with cover art) that includes a t-shirt, an engraved pen, and a tiara! (Yes, really!) Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 7, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!