Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.
Publishing Date: May 9th 2017
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Initial thoughts: A cute, light-hearted coming of age modern Cinderella that bordered on corny at times but redeemed itself during the last half of the book. While I only gave it 3 stars, I would still recommend if you are curious about picking it up.
When I finished this book, I can happily say that I was satisfied. While I seriously considered putting it down for the first 40% or so, I am happy I stuck with it and finished the book. It was a happy, quick summery read with the framework of a Cinderella story that makes it just a little bit magical.
Tatum Elsea, or Tate, is in a tough situation for the summer. Accused of assisting in a crime she didn’t commit, estranged from her best friend, locked into community service for the summer, and living with her overly-strict stepmother makes the coming months look very unappealing. By this point in the story, the Cinderella parallels are clear: a lot of chores, a strict household, absent father (he’s traveling for the summer) and a very understanding grandmother aka fairy godmother. It did annoy me a bit that the author would drop lines like “it seemed like a fairy tale” or “I felt like I had a fairy godmother.” I get it. I don’t need it spelled out for me. At this point, I was thinking “meh” but I read on.
One of the aspects of Tatum’s story that I really enjoyed was her proclivity for graphic design. She even start her own company in secret and is proud of her clients that start trickling in. It is through these email exchanges that she starts chatting with cute, cello-player, SK. I really enjoyed their email exchanges! They were witty, flirty and downright cute. While there was a pretty adorable romantic aspect to this story, I also appreciated that it didn’t dominate the entire plot.
Ultimately, this is a coming of age story. Tatum grows throughout the book, learning that her stepmother and stepsister might not dislike her as much as she thinks and that she may have also made some poor choices to erode that trust. That being said, I do think all of the arguments that happened in the house were a bit dramatic and Tatum was a little too misunderstood. However, if the author’s point was to make it a little more dramatic to fall in line with the Cinderella backstory, she did it well.
As I am writing this review I realize I may be more critical than I originally thought, but the overall story was cute! It was a bit light for my taste, but if you enjoy a happy, coming of age contemporary then you might want to pick this up.
Have you read It Started With Goodbye? What did you think?