February 25, 2013 by Alice in Readerland
Once upon a time, there was a girl. Let’s call her Rapunzel. A modern-day version. Abandoned. Alone. Waiting for her hair to grow and dreaming of a way to escape from her tower. She was trapped, you see. Not in the conventional fairy-tale way–this was the dreaded after-school Homework Club. A desolate place, where no gum could be chewed, and where Rapunzel sat day after day, cursing the evil spell that had been cast over her father. The doctors called it something else, but a true heroine can smell an evil spell a mile away. So when a mysterious letter addressed to P.O. Box #5667 falls into her hands, she knows she’s found the pea under her mattress. But since when is finding happily ever after as simple as Just Writing Back?
Winner of the Ursula Nordstrom Fiction Contest, Sara Lewis Holmes’s enchanting debut novel is a breath of fresh air. Told through letters, with a liberal sprinkling of fairy dust, Rapunzel’s quest for a happy ending gives every reader something to believe in.
“Or maybe you don’t believe in Evil Spells. Maybe you think fairy tales aren’t true. Maybe you think I shouldn’t call myself Rapunzel. But maybe those people in the fairy tales didn’t think they believed in them either. They thought they were ordinary people, with ordinary names and lives, and they didn’t know that stories were going to be told about them for hundreds and hundreds of years. Maybe you think you’re an ordinary person who writes letters to my dad, but I know you’re not. You’re more important than that.”
Rapunzel is convinced that her father is under an Evil Spell, even though she keeps being told it’s something else called clinical depression. But, to Rapunzel, an Evil Spell just makes perfect sense; after all, how else could you explain why her loving, artistic father suddenly acts so odd now? When Rapunzel finds a torn up letter, a letter her father was writing to someone at P.O. Box #5667, Rapunzel knows she has to write to whoever this person is. Because that person may be able to help break the Evil Spell that put her father under its enchantment; and because Rapunzel needs help getting her happily ever after.
Something I really liked about this book was that it was told through all the letters Rapunzel was sending to P.O. Box #5667. I love it when stories are told in this format, and I also loved Rapunzel’s voice. She was so hilarious and curious, a wonderful combination. I also enjoyed getting to take a look at Rapunzel trying to piece together what made her dad go under the “Evil Spell” and I think it was a brilliant way to present clinical depression on a lighter, yet still sad, note. While this book had a lot of great laugh-out-loud lines, it also mixed in poignancy which really made this book.
I also loved the twist at the end when you find out who Rapunzel’s been writing to, and how Rapunzel takes the news. The ending was also very hopeful and I love the resolution that Rapunzel comes to.
Sadly, this book lacked frying pans. But it was still pretty great! ;)
Cynical Cindy Says:
While I really enjoyed Rapunzel’s quirky voice, there were times that she would ramble on and get way off topic. Of course, this was part of the story and Rapunzel admits that she does this, but sometimes I felt it took away from the plotline.
…He said, “In the real world, you can only understand your life backward.”
I said “But you have to live it forward.”
And he said, “Yes, as best you can.”
And it turns out that being smart doesn’t help you either. Everyone thinks that smart people are happy, but it’s not true. What so happy about being able to see what’s wrong all the time, and not having the power to fix it? What’s so happy about feeling weird and different every day of your life? What’s so happy about having gorgeous, superlative, wonderful hair (or a BRAIN) when you’re kept in a tower?
3 out of 5 teacups
Stay tuned for more Fairy Tale February posts here in Readerland!