I was lucky enough to snag an ARC of CINDERELLA BOY, and I’m so glad I did. This book releases today; it’s a sweet love story that pulled me in from the first page:
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.
Declan lives for trying on his sister’s clothes–until she catches him at it one day. Delia doesn’t judge him–if anything she offers the kind of support most would wish in a sister–including introducing Declan to his crush, Carter, as the ever-mysterious “Layla.” Carter, meanwhile, finds something in Layla he hasn’t found with other girls–an intellect that can match his, and someone willing to see the side of himself that he hides from his other, more popular, friends. Declan, however, gets a conscience about his deceit, and starts to care enough for Carter to let him go. But Carter has some ideas of his own–ones that Declan can’t even dream of–especially when Carter fights for something worth believing in. Where Kristina Meister really stands out as an author is with her distinctive voice–separate enough from her characters for them to be autonomous, but consistent enough throughout to keep readers engaged. The characters, in and of themselves, are very deep thinkers, and their conversations are fascinating. Even better, the budding romance is deftly supported with a really meaty plot–with battles against intolerance that teens are still currently fighting. Overall, this book has a beautiful message about self-confidence, and the importance of being yourself, and readers who struggle with self-esteem–even the adults among us–can find ways to gain comfort in their own skin within these pages. This book is definitely a must for high schoolers who are trying to find themselves amid the pressures from parents and community–and for those of us who need ways to bring our own unique individuality to the world.