Spring 1994, New York CityKate Allen, in proper hat and gloves, stared at the typed sign above the receptionist: THERE ARE NO SMALL PARTS; THERE ARE ONLY SMALL ACTORS. Hmpf. Maybe in showbiz, but not in real life.
Kate Allen longs for a shot at creating window displays–but her mother has delusions of higher society and keeps encouraging… or forcing… Kate to attending auditions and model in the department store’s fashion shows. The arrival of Aunt Elsie and Uncle Adalbert sends Kate’s normal routine as a girl in wartime New York City into one filled with mystery, romance, intrigue, and beautiful gowns.
One of the most delightful parts of Kate’s personality is how she’s goal-oriented and career-driven while still being a teen. Her life doesn’t stop because of the handsome Johnny Day; in fact, she fights for her job and is allowed to make mistakes along the way. She also doesn’t have to give up friendships along the way, which might have been the case if the story was handled by a different author.
The other major players–Aunt Elsie, Uncle Adalbert, Johnny, Josie, and even Kate’s dead grandmother affectionately called Babcia–have rich personalities and individual goals. The love between Elsie and Adalbert, even in the face of Elsie’s diminishing mental faculties, strikes especially teary-eyed chords.
There’s plenty of fun historical nuggets floating around, too–like the New Look and its protesters, famous fashion designers and window designers and more.
One unfortunate part of the story is from a meta perspective. Reading the book description will give away too much of the plot–and even bits which are not as important–along with the title itself. An error early on, calling the dress Cinderalla’s dress rather than its Polish name, also will pull readers out of the moment. If the title had been different or the mystery of whose dress Aunt Elsie was guarding was less drawn out, those bits would have shown like diamonds on the princess’s bodice. That said, many readers–like us–were likely intrigued by the very title that gives away the early mystery, so it is hard to tell if this will hurt it in the long run.
The ending, which satisfyingly wraps up the major plots of Kate’s life, leaves wide open the majority of the minor ones. Hopefully this means that author Shonna Slayton has plans for a second novel–Cinderella’s Slippers, perhaps?–where Kate, Johnny, Josie and the rest can take a European vacation in search of a missing soldier…
Appropriate for ages 12+. Mild language, no alcohol or drug use, or sexual situations. Some intense situations and discussions of wartime tragedy.
Deals with family, friendship, sweet romance, loss, responsibility, mental health issues.
GET IT ON YOUR SHELF:
- – Love magical realism and fairy tales brought to life
- – Are a fan of driven, intelligent heroines who aren’t afraid to have emotions too
- – Enjoy high fashion, vintage lifestyle, and the right amount of wartime spy thrills
- – Have a soft spot for WWII era tales and want perspective from a teen on the homefront
YA Historical Retelling
Paperback & Ebook, 340 pages
Published June 3rd, 2014 by Entangled Teen
(Review copy provided by Entangled Teen.)
Review by Olivia Hennis, originally published 9/6/2014 on YoungAdultMag.com