Title: It Started With Goodbye
Author: Christina June
Publisher: Blink, an Imprint of HarperCollins
Release Date: May 9, 2017
Synopsis: 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.
***I received a free e-galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review***
It Started With Goodbye is a spirited, quirky YA re-telling of Cinderella that adds some fun variety to the classic fairytale we all know about glass slippers. Or in Tatum’s case, her beloved metal keychain.
Though Tatum’s story is grounded in a fairytale, June’s contemporary twists refresh and modernize it. The role of Tatum’s sassy Abuela as the novel’s version of a fairy godmother, as well as the story’s focus on Tatum’s relationship development with both her step-mother and step-sister are essential changes for the book’s YA tone.
In addition to this, Tatum’s character development throughout the story is really admirable. The story follows her journey of self-discovery, which neatly adapts the tale of Cinderella to reflect the needs of a YA audience (who are journeying towards self-discovery themselves). Through a summer of unexpected turns, Tatum develops into a compassionate and independent young woman.
Much of this transformation is due to the emphasis that Christina June places on Tatum’s growing relationships with family and friends. Where the original Cinderella story relies heavily on Prince Charming for a happily ever after, Tatum finds this satisfaction in her newfound trust with step-sister Tilly, transparency with step-mother Belén, and honesty with best friend Ashlyn (after they suffer some serious obstacles due to Ashlyn’s loser boyfriend).
In the world of Cinderella revivals and adaptions, this was a much-needed change in the story arc–because girl power is everything.
However, in order to be true to its roots, there definitely is some romance involved with Tatum’s own Prince Charming (but the whole story isn’t centered around him–yay!) and he doesn’t really place a vital role in Tatum’s story.
I love that June made this novel about Tatum, because it’s her story. Not her story in relation to a boy.
Yet, in some places, this story did fall flat.
I appreciate an adaptation of familiar storylines occasionally, but the predictability of them limits my intrigue as a reader. I wish that June had taken some more liberties with her modernization of Cinderella, because I did find myself losing interest because I knew exactly what was going to happen.
The biggest miss for me is that this book just seemed too simple. There have been many renditions of the Cinderella story elsewhere, and this one just was not entirely memorable for me. I really do like June’s voice and writing style, but I hope she tackles some more challenging stories in the future.
Christina June’s debut novel solidifies her as a strong-voiced, positive addition to the YA author scene. It Started with Goodbye transforms the familiar fairytale of Cinderella into a fun story of self-empowerment and independence–a valiant contribution for her first novel.
As much as I love June’s voice and style, this story just didn’t interest me as much as I was hoping it would.
It Started with Goodbye – 3/5 stars.