* "Printz Honor winner Donnelly offers up a stunningly focused story that rips into the heart of familiar fairy tale. Isabelle [is] a shattered but not unreedemable girl with a warrior's heart." -- Booklist, starred review
An instant New York Times bestseller
Optioned for film by Lynette Howell Taylor, the producer of A Star is Born and Bruna Papandrea, producer of Big Little Lies
A Seventeen Best of the Year
Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal
An American Librarian Association-YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults book
An American Library Association Feminist Book Project book
A Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of the Year
Isabelle should be blissfully happy -- she's about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn't the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince's heart. She's the ugly stepsister who cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella's shoe . . . which is now filling with blood.
Isabelle tried to fit in. She cut away pieces of herself in order to become pretty. Sweet. More like Cinderella. But that only made her mean, jealous, and hollow. Now she has a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.
Evoking the darker, original version of the Cinderella story, Stepsister shows us that ugly is in the eye of the beholder, and uses Jennifer Donnelly's trademark wit and wisdom to send an overlooked character on a journey toward empowerment, redemption . . . and a new definition of beauty.
"Cinderella" has seen many variations, but few detail what happens beyond the royal marriage, and even fewer cast a light on Cinderella's family. Printz Award-winning Donnelly (A Northern Light) does both in this feminist rendition that follows "ugly" stepsister Isabelle. Rather than becoming a proper lady as her abusive mother demands, Isabelle would prefer to ride horses with her soulmate Felix, collect "rocks and animal skulls," and practice her swordplay. Abandoned by Felix and without other prospects, down two toes by her own hand, and with her family fortune dwindling, she faces a bleak future. Then, meddlesome Chance steals the map of her life from the Fates and grants Isabelle the opportunity to revamp her destiny, and a fairy queen tasks her with finding the missing pieces of her broken heart in exchange for a wish. The story offers plenty of adventure as one of the Fates, Chance, and the queen of the fairies battle wills, and Isabelle confronts precarious situations as she becomes involved in a war between France and an evil warlord. Focusing on beauty's many guises, what contributes to hatred and cruelty, and people's power to take charge of their destinies, the retold fairy tale advocates autonomy and empowerment. Ages 12 up.