Review | Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

“Don’t you see? A pretty girl must please the world. But an ugly girl? She’s free to please herself.” 5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: life maps, pearl necklaces, burnt bread, monkeys with pistols, amber eyes, cut out toes, swordplay, equations, black stallions, fires, gold coins, wooden soldiers, thrown eggs, cabbages, smelly cheeses, queens, theatre plays, forgiveness and pieces of a girl’s heart.

By far one of the best books I’ve read this year! Where do I begin with this book? I have to admit I had a difficult time writing this review and that’s the reason why I took so much time doing it. The truth is that there is so much going on with this book that I don’t think I could write a review that would express fully my thoughts and feelings. But one thing at a time! 

This book is a dark Cinderella retelling, but it’s not about Cinderella. Here we follow the story of her “ugly” stepsister, Isabelle. The book starts where the famous Cinderella story ends, with her sisters cutting their toes to fit the glass slipper. After Cinderella tries the shoe on and goes to live happily ever after with her prince, her sisters keep living in their home with their mother. So everything was like it should be, right? The ugly sisters live their ugly lives, while the beautiful girls live their deserved best life. But fortunately, Isabelle is given a chance to change her future and escape her destiny. To become whole and herself again, the only thing she needs to do is to find the three pieces of her broken heart.

What surprise me the most about this book is that it’s a feminist book. Isabelle was an amazing, strong, inspiring main character. Her entire life was molded by what her mother and people in her village made of her, and of course she started to believe what they said and thought about her. I know she is known for being an ugly, mean girl, but she was so much more than that. It was really easy for me to connect to her because I saw her potential and how good she really was. The world was cruel to her, and that broke her heart and made her bitter. She made an effort and she turned her destiny around, by remembering who she really was – a brave, happy girl who loved horseback riding and swordplay. She freed herself from the other people’s opinions, and after healing her heart, she finally was happy and she was okay with who she really was. I honestly loved her character growth so much because of how inspiring it was. It was definitely one of my favorite things about this book.

I also fell in love with so many quotes, it’s insane. I am going to leave a few of my favorites below, because I know I will regret it later if I don’t.

Call a girl pretty once, and all she wants, forevermore, is to hear it again.

““They cut away pieces of me,” she whispered in the darkness. “But I handed them the knife.””

History books say that kings and dukes and generals start wars. Don’t believe it. We start them, you and I. Every time we turn away, keep quiet, stay out of it, behave ourselves.

Here are the things girls die of: hunger, disease, accidents, childbirth, and violence. It takes more than heartache to kill a girl. Girls are tough as rocks.

Should you ever decide, in those small dark hours, to hang yourself, well, that is your choice. But don’t hunt for the rope until morning. By then you’ll find a much better use for it.

I fell in love with this book. Great characters, great pacing, strong story, beautiful lessons… what more could you want? This is a book about accepting yourself regardless of what other people may think about you, and knowing that there is always beauty in yourself – not necessarily in looks. I know it’s a book I will take with me for a very long time, and I would talk about it forever if I could. 

If you like retellings, fantasy books or books with strong female characters, you should definitely pick it up. But seriously, even if it looks like it’s not your cup of tea, pick it up anyway. it’s a very underrated book and I highly recommend it!

xoxo, Neide

One thought on “Review | Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

  1. Pingback: The Best Books I Read in 2020 – Sprayed Edges

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