Review: Cinderella Boy by Kristina Meister

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.

"You're never too young to see the potential for a lifetime."

I don't read a lot of YA but I was impressed by Cinderella Boy. I was drawn to it by the crossdressing element but this is so much more than a crossdressing book. Both Carter and Declan are wise beyond their years, insightful, perceptive and full of angst. They have angst about themselves, each other and general high school angst.

There were times when I thought their intellects exceeded their years but then I remembered the Parkland kids and how amazingly wise, brave, intelligent and well spoken they are, so in that regard Cinderella Boy is more of a zeitgeist, but in other ways their insecurities are much the same as any teen in any time which is what made them sympathetic and relatable.

Both Carter and Declan undergo significant changes which we get a front row seat to courtesy of dual perspectives. Over the course of their brief romantic relationship as "boyfriend and girlfriend" but moreso through their burgeoning friendship during the first semester of Carter's senior year they take on a bigoted principal and stand up for not only themselves but the entire student body all while growing closer and trying to figure out their feelings and what to do with them. When they stand up together amazing things happen not just for them but the entire community proving the point that when people with a modicum of power are determined, and these two are determined, change can happen.

"Silence never makes things better. It only ever leads to regret, regret leads to suffering, suffering leads to anger... and that is path to the dark side."

Sure, there is fear, trepidation and Star Wars quotes to bedevil them along the way but their love for each other outshines all else and at the end of the day these two make each other better. There's nothing I like more in my romance reads than couples who strengthen and bring out the best in each other. It also helped that I really liked some of the secondary characters many of whom played a vital role in the narrative.

Carter is so easy to like whereas Declan is prickly and insecure, but what I found touching about him was his struggle to try to identify his sexuality. He's definitely the most well developed and layered gender fluid character I've ever read and it made my heart ache that he kept trying to make himself fit into a category to satisfy the needs of others when in reality he's just Dex. What warmed my heart was how much Carter got that. He loves Dex for Dex whether he's a boy in geek chic or a girl in a dress. Dex is his person and that's what made this a memorable and satisfying read.

Recommend to YA and angst fans.

An ARC was provided by NetGalley.

No comments:

Post a Comment