Friday, July 16, 2010

Off Color: The Cinderella Society

The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy 2010
Egmont USA

Rating: 4/5

IQ "It's ironic how failures in life are often preceded by warning signs that we don't pick up on, either because they're not loud enough or we're not paying attention. [...] When the little warnings fail to do their job, the universe simply bumps up its campaign to get you back on track. Even if it means clocking you over the head with a major disaster to finally shake some sense into you." pg. 269

Jess Parker is the new kid and her sophomore year stunk. She's an outsider and Lexy Steele is determined to make her life a nightmare in order to get back at Jess for taking Lexy's cheer leading spot. Jess is looking forward to spending the summer before her junior year hiding, working, volunteering and going to cheer camp. Maybe just maybe, the other cheerleaders will finally accept her. However her plans change when she receives an invitation to attend a meeting for a secret sisterhood, The Cinderella Society. The Cindys are not just about makeovers, they want to do good deeds, change the world and make every girl feel confident. Jess is thrilled to be part of the group, but she still has to deal with Lexy who leads the Wickeds. It's the never ending battle of good versus evil, the Cindys vs. Wickeds high school style.

At times this book can read too much like a self-help manual. The message of girl power is very strong throughout the novel and this is both good and bad. At times it can seem cheesy or heavy handed, but at the same time, it's a message that we don't hear often and girls need to hear it constantly. It's very much about boosting your self esteem and it's what's on the inside that counts. I was disappointed that there was the cliche of the cheerleader falling in love with the football player but at least the main character realizes it "Besides I was practically a walking, talking stereotype: the cheerleader drooling over the quarterback. Except I wasn't popular. At least it wasn't a total cliche." (pg. 11) I didn't like how hi-tech everything was. I think the story could have been even more appealing if the Cindys had the same tools at their disposal that all girls have, they just had more confidence. Instead the Cindys have many luxuries that prevent the story from seeming even more plausible.

Normally I don't read much chick lit but this book sounded very unique and I wanted to give it a try. When I listed it as a book for the Chick Lit Challenge, I stated that I wasn't sure if I would review because I didn't know if there were any POC in it. Ms. Cassidy commented that she was glad I was reading her book for the challenge and that it was multicultural. I was skeptical, what if our definitions of multicultural were different and she only had the token black friend? Well I was very wrong and in this case I loved being proven wrong. One of the co captains, Kyra, is half Cuban, other members of the Cindys are Indian and African American. I love that Kyra was one of the most popular girls at school and she happened to be a Latina. The cultural background of the characters is no big deal, Ms. Cassidy could have easily not mentioned the cultural background of her characters by simply stating that the Cinderella Society accepts everyone. But I think that people of color like myself would have assumed that everyone was white (it's what we've sadly become used to), so I was ecstatic that the various cultures were mentioned.
I loved the Rule of Fives "Every time something embarrassing or horrible or stressful happens, stop and take five slow, deep breaths. Then ask yourself the 'five' questions: Will this matter in five hours? Will this matter in five weeks? Will this matter in five years? You'd be surprised by how things that seem earth-shattering at the time don't even pass the five-week test." (Audrey, pg. 87) It's a great way to keep things in perspective.

The Cindrella Society is a fun and inspiring novel that is quite creative. I love the idea of Cindys vs. Wickeds and the Reggies (regular kids) aren't excluded either. The Wickeds are not 100% bad, the Cindys are not 100% good and the Reggies have the potential to be more powerful than both groups. This keeps the book from seeming too elitist or unrealistic. It was feminist and fun (how often do those two words go together in today's society?). I look forward to learning more about the Wickeds, discovering what Jess sees in Ryan (I really don't understand it besides his good looks) and the ultimate battle between good and evil, high school style ;)I finished this book wanting to be a Cindy and that's the greatest power this book has, I'm convinced that it will inspire a generation of girls regardless of cultural or economic background. As cheesy as it sounds this book does send the message that all girls can be Cindys.

Disclosure: Won from Jill at the O.W.L. Thank you so much Jill and Daisy!


  1. Definitely not my fav genre, the chick lit, but the Rule of Fives sounds very sensible!

  2. I agree with anachronist, the five rules sound cool.

    I like that this book has a multicultural cast because when I saw "off color" I was thinking it was one of those gossip girl type of books where everyone is rich and white, but I'm glad that I was pleasantly surprised.

  3. I'd dismissed this book as fluff from the summary, but your review makes me want to take a closer look.

  4. @anachronist-The rules are sensbile, although they may go out the window when something really embarrasing happens to me! Chick lit isn't my main genre either.

    @Najela-Those types of books won't be reviewed here unless there's a multicultural cast. I admit though I am addicted to the Private series by Kate Brian, although I'm now behind. Off Color generally means there is a supporting character of color in a book written by a white author or the book is by a PoC but about white people.

    @Sarah-It's deeper than fluff, more of a self esteem booster. I'd say give it to any pre teen or teenage girls that you know.

  5. I really enjoyed reading The Cinderella Society. It has a lot of appeal, with a secret society, romance, friendship, and feuding. Jess is a terrific heroine and I love her chick lit-type of sassiness. The story has enough froth to be fun but also has a serious and meaningful message. I look forward to reading the next one!
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