Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 929
A Sweet "Ugly Ducking" Retelling
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
What I Loved:

A CYGNET’S TALE by Susan Burdorf is an updated tale of the Ugly Duckling that dives so much deeper into the emotional struggle of being an outsider. Our story follows sixteen-year-old Helen Schwann who was abandoned on the steps of a church as just a day old baby. She’s raised in foster care and is an outsider in her school, often picked on by the school’s queen bee. She struggles with her place at home and at school and is unsure of her future, what will happen when she ages out of the foster system? How will she afford to live on her own?

When a substitute teacher assigns a class project that requires students to create a family tree, with interviews and heritage details, Helen spins. As an adopted child, she doesn’t know any of these answers and doesn’t have anyone who can help her. The substitute teachers vows to help Helen is any way she can to help her family and Travis immediately promises to be by her side as well.
Helen is able to eventually find the answers to her questions and her new relationship with Travis gives her the confidence she needs to see it through. Helen grows a ton in this story and it’s exciting to watch her blossom into the incredible girl everyone but her is able to see.

What Left Me Wanting More:

While I enjoyed the character of Travis, his connection to Helen felt too much like insta-love to me. He’s a new student to her school but has a past with Queen Bee Rachel. He immediately takes Helen’s side when Rachel makes fun of her and is obviously interested in her romantically, despite the fact they haven’t spent any time together. He’s supportive and kind and helpful in practical ways to Helen even though he has his own skeletons in the closet that require his attention.

Final Verdict:

A CYGNET’S TALE is a strong debut for Susan Burdorf and I would highly recommend for fans who enjoy a retelling and/or seeing the underdog come out triumphant.
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