A modern day Cinderella with a twist... When high school seniors Noah Barton and Eden Prince’s academic rivalry ruins a thermodynamics demo, their physics teacher decides to help them get along. By forcing them to be lab partners. As graduation approaches, Noah and Eden are too busy figuring out college to deal with each other. Noah’s football-loving dad sabotages his chance to win a big scholarship. Eden’s traditional mother cares more about finding her a serious boyfriend than encouraging her dreams. Winning big at the regional science fair is their last hope. Will Noah follow in his astronaut mother’s footsteps? Can Eden show her parents the environment is more important than any relationship? Will Noah and Eden finally learn to work together? Follow Noah and Eden’s budding romance in this emotionally charged, sex-positive, gender-swapped retelling of Cinderella.
Stilettos & Stardust: A Gender-Swapped Cinderella StoryFeatured
I had this book on my TBR before I even read the blurb because the cover and title were so captivating. Edie's intentionally unlikable character truly makes this book. Girl jerks are the best, and her disconnect with humanity is refreshing and entertaining. She is real, she makes mistakes and hurts people in the process, lending the book an edge of reality so many contemporary books lack.
The themes of self-discovery and freedom vs expectation are explored wonderfully. Also noteworthy is the side character development. Pitchford masters the first-person narrative by letting you only see the side characters as the main character sees them, and it adds to both their development and the development of the protagonists as the way they see the world and those around them subtly shifts with their own maturation.
The social implications here are fantastic. Pitchford touches on everything from gender norms, sexual identity, racial stereotypes, and the way that mental illness can affect people of all ages and stations. Important, also, is the way that neither Noah nor Edie are in the "popular" group, but neither do they have disdain or aspirations for it. It just is who they are, in their niche, without being an unnecessary issue.
What left me wanting more:
Noah's character is somewhat less interesting than Edie's. He is also flawed, but some of his feel slightly less intentional, like his refusal to understand his brothers and father process things differently, and the way he criticizes their interests, all the while wanting them to understand his interests and way of dealing.
Other than that, the Cinderella theme is done lightly to the point of nonexistence. There is no rags-to-riches, no dressing up to be someone else. The story stood well enough on its own, so this wasn't specifically a problem as much as a comment.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, though, Stilettos and Stardust really has it all. It takes the reader on a journey that is equal parts poignant and entertaining, while quietly subverting gender, racial, and sexual stereotypes and promoting a generally inclusive attitude without feeling preachy. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a solid, non-problematic contemporary romance.