Title: CINDERELLA’S DRESS
Author: Shonna Slayton
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pub. Date: June 3, 2014
Being seventeen during World War II is tough. Finding out you’re the next keeper of the real Cinderella’s dress is even tougher.
Kate simply wants to create window displays at the department store where she’s working, trying to help out with the war effort. But when long-lost relatives from Poland arrive with a steamer trunk they claim holds the Cinderella’s dress, life gets complicated.
Now, with a father missing in action, her new sweetheart shipped off to boot camp, and her great aunt losing her wits, Kate has to unravel the mystery before it’s too late.
After all, the descendants of the wicked stepsisters will stop at nothing to get what they think they deserve.
Cinderella’s Dress is a charming and quaint re-imagining of the classic fairy tale Cinderella. Set in the 1940s during the turmoil of WWII, Cinderella’s Dress combines the whimsy of a fantasy with the time-bending atmosphere of the early 1940s. Thrust into a world of magic, war, and the rise of woman’s rights, Cinderella’s Dress is a journey into historical fiction and folklore.
- The 1940s is brought to life with flair. It’s fused together with a combination of letters from the front and the role of women while their boys are off at war. It’s written in a simple, wonderful tone that captures the various personalities of the 40s. The women are each unique, from riveters to woman’s protests of body image and clothing confinement, the rise of feminism is subtle but powerful, reinforcing Kate’s own ambitions. The colloquialisms and dated exclamations easily allow you to become immersed in a time where the world was about sweethearts and battlefields.
- Kate is feisty. She has little confidence in herself but she’s steadily braving the wrath of the times, going against the grain to fight for her dreams of being a window dresser, rather than a model. Her dream job was largely devoid of women and deemed a man’s job. Kate refuses to be defined by her gender and pushes her way into the hearts of the men, working her way up. Kate is hotheaded and lets her emotions boil until they explode into a fiery mess of anger and harsh words. While Kate is courageous in regards to her future career and minding her family secret, when it comes to standing up for herself and expressing her true feelings for Johnny, she’s timid and unsure. Kate’s juxtaposition of fierce confidence and insecurity at her heart’s desire is very endearing and real, and parallel’s the classic Cinderella’s own misgivings.
- The snippets of Polish culture are a delightful and dual purposed addition to this story. The family’s place as Polish Jews in the 1940s is done very well, in subtle and powerful passages aching of fear and quiet desperation to save those in danger. The Polish within the text is light and always explained. The techniques of embroidering, making colored eggs, and cooking add culture and a unique spin on Cinderella, making it more a matter of heritage than chance.
- Cinderella’s Dress is not at all what you’d expect when thinking of a Cinderella retelling. The reconfiguration of the fairy tale is unexpected and while it does have a close link to the original story is different enough to make it refreshing and surprising.
- Kate and Johnny are darling together. There’s mild teasing and flirtation, and there’s something so innocent and authentic in their letters that you feel teleported and it’s easy to imagine Johnny propped up on a military bunk gazing at Kate’s letters longingly, and Kate’s secret smile as she write’s Johnny’s. It’s sweet, pure, and sometimes it feels as though there’s not enough of these perfect moments together.
- Dementia is not often dealt with in YA but Shonna Slayton does a fantastic job crafting the heartbreak and weariness, the earth-shattering sadness and unknowing of whether or not your loved ones with remember you. It’s compelling and upsetting, the interactions between the Oberlins are poignant and depressing, but lingering and full of hope for glimmer of memory.
- The step sisters’ descendants weren’t anywhere near as threatening or dangerous as they were made out to be. While the paranoia and fear atmosphere of the story was really well done, Kate is constantly looking over her shoulder and unable to trust her eyes, when the enemy finally does appear it’s anticlimactic and a bit of a let down.
- Mr. Allen is one of the most interesting characters as a Monument man but is left out of most of the story. I wanted to know more about his adventures in preservation but this does leave the plot open for a sequel. Some of the lesser characters were undeveloped and fleeting. Fran was mildly stereotypical and didn’t have much of a presence.
Shonna Slayton finds inspiration in reading vintage diaries written by teens, who despite using different slang, sound a lot like teenagers today. While writing Cinderella’s Dress she reflected on her days as a high-school senior in British Columbia when she convinced her supervisors at a sportswear store to let her design a few windows—it was glorious fun while it lasted. When not writing, Shonna enjoys amaretto lattes and spending time with her husband and children in Arizona. You can visit her website at shonnaslayton.com
1 Signed copy of Cinderella’s Dress, an Amber sun pendant set in sterling silver a Tatting shuttle and thread, a dress form ornament and bookmark swag. US Only.
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