Ashley's Reviews > Just Ella

Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix
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's review
Jan 18, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: books-from-my-childhood, fairy-tales, favorites, own, blog

One of my favorite Cinderella retellings. There isn't any magic, just a smart heroine, and this story focuses more on what happened after the "Happily Ever After", although it is before the wedding... So cute!

Original 'review' above, a more detailed review is below, that was originally posted on my blog, Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing.

I have always loved fairy tales. I love losing myself in the worlds and ideas that fairy tales create, and they have always had a special place in my heart and on my shelf. The best fairy tales are always the ones that take the original story and crafts something new and wholly unique from them.

Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix is my kind of fairy tale. Ella is basically hardcore, and she does it on her own. This fairy tale has no magic, no helpless heroine, no overly heroic prince (although he kind of tries- creepy!) and our Ella is SMART! (Sadly, the prince does have the personality of a noodle, and a dry one at that.) Ella doesn't sit around crying into the ashes of the fire her stepsisters left for her waiting for a magical solution to her problem. She decides she wants to go to the ball, finds an old gown, alters it and goes. No magic required. Once at the ball, the prince, of course, does decide he is in love with her, cannot live without her, and must bring her to his castle immediately for their happily ever after and Ella is, of course, ecstatic. Aside from the no magic part, this book still sounds very much like the typical Cinderella story. But the brilliance of this story comes after the 'ending.' Most of Just Ella takes place after the ball but before the wedding and we get to see what happens when you commit to spend your life with someone you've known for five minutes. (Like when you buy something really pretty (Ooooh, shiny!) and then get home and realize you hate it, but the store won't take it back).

Ella tries really hard to find her happily ever after. She has what every girl in the kingdom wants (the prince to marry and a lifetime of ease and luxury in the palace ahead of her.) She thinks she should be happy but she slowly begins to realize that she is not and that she doesn't know if this life can be right for her. She sits down with the prince one night before their wedding, and tries to talk to him about her concerns, and address the problems she is facing. I won't spoil the ending for you. That's the best part of the book. You'll have to read it yourself if you want to know how that conversation goes.

I loved this story because it isn't just the traditional Cinderella story. It's more practical, more true to life and addresses the issues I've always had with the story (weak heroine, true love at first site etc.) to craft a story that goes beyond the original. It's pretty awesome, but one that is definitely geared toward younger readers. So keep that in mind when you read it.

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