Author: Gail Carson Levine
No. of Pages: 232
First Published: 1997
Synopsis: At her birth, Ella of Frell was given a foolish fairy’s gift – the “gift” of obedience. Ella must obey any order given to her, whether it’s hopping on one foot for a day or chopping off her own head! But strong-willed Ella does not tamely accept her fate. She goes on a quest, encountering ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, fairy godmothers, and handsome princes, determined to break the curse – and live happily ever after.
Comments and Critiques: I have seen the movie and was utterly charmed by it. So, like any bibliophile, I figured I would have to check out the original. I was not disappointed. Thankfully, I was warned that the movie is nothing like the book, so there were no surprises there to distract me from the book itself.
This book is simply…enchanting. I read it during a bout of insomnia in the course of a few hours. It kept my interest and may have even contributed to my lack of sleepiness that night. The book itself moves away from all the mythical creatures and focuses on Ella’s interactions with people as well as her struggles to overcome the curse. Her attraction to Prince Char starts out strictly as friendship, which is as it should for a fifteen-year-old. The quest itself is not limited to a physical journey but expands into an emotional one as well, which is also appropriate for a fifteen-year-old girl.
Ms. Levine weaves quite a story through mythical Frell and other lands. Ella’s curse also makes her strong, as she struggles her entire life to break it. Through her struggles, the reader becomes involved in cheering her on and empathizing with her because, let’s face it, we have all been forced to do something we don’t want to do at some point in time. It is this fact which makes Ella so compelling. Her gift of obedience and her struggles to break the curse symbolize childhood and our growth into adults as we go from obeying our parents to making our own choices. Set to the backdrop of a a fairy tale, this age-old struggle takes on new life.
I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a quick, light summer read. It is great for young and young at heart, boys and girls. (I say that because I took this out of my son’s personal library.)