Just Ella

Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
My Recommended Age: 13 and up
Grade level equivalent: 5.6
Lexile 850L
Guided reading level: Y

We all know the story of Cinderella, or at least we think we do. Just Ella is meant to be the "real life-this could really happen" version of our favorite fairy tale.  It begins just as Cinderella is swept off her feet to marry the prince. All in all, Ella soon realizes that she does not enjoy being royal and that she doesn't love or even really know Prince Charming. She does have a little heart-throb for her tutor, but that point was not over-written. Cinderella finds a way to escape her royal betrothal, but not without making a few enemies along the way.

In terms of questionable material, there is mention of Cinderella's father and his "intimate relations" with her step-mother, including a reference to what Cinderella heard them doing during the night. It is not descriptive, just commented on.  Also, Ella's prison guard is a convicted rapist and although Ella is not harmed, there is mention of his misdeeds. Later, the guard is murdered by Charming in front of Ella (chivalry at its best).

I started off really liking this book. Especially, how Ella made it to the ball on her own, without a fairy-godmother (glass slipper and all). Ella is a strong determined character, which seem to be rare traits for young women these days.  Unfortunately, the abrupt ending left me wondering whether the last half of the book was missing, or if the author just got tired of writing and so she stopped. The whole story suffered because of this. Like so many of her other books, Just Ella was a quick read and for the time spent it was worth it.

Happy Reading

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