Cinderella is the tale of an iconic Disney princess and a story almost every Disney fan treasures. Many young women look to her as their role model as the original story follows the journey of young Ella through various hurdles as she satisfies the needs of her stepmother and sisters. Ella then chances upon her one true love at a ball, however as she hurriedly leaves the ball she loses one of her glass slippers. Her prince searches high and low for her and returns her beautiful glass slipper. They both live a happy ever after.
George Helou's take on the modern classic is extremely unique in his new novel 'Cinderella's Secrets' *. He retells this modern classic from a different perspective - the readers are able to delve deeper into the thought processes of Ella as she reinvents herself and learns the balance between prioritising others and prioritising herself. George also explores the reason behind the the actions of the 'villains' in the story as well as the impact of the grief Peter (Ella's father) experiences has upon his decisions to remarry and send Ella to boarding school after Ella's mother passes. I thought the way Helou explored the characters of the villains to be a change in the game of fairytales as we tend to perceive them as evil beings with malicious intent as opposed to understanding the reason behind their actions and/or characteristics. Helou uses this opportunity to turn an iconic tale into a self empowering masterpiece, which accentuates the importance of our character and mental wellbeing. Cinderella's Secrets* accentuates how we can move beyond ill treatment, bullying and disenchantment by acknowledging and accepting our personal need for respect and dignity.
I found this tale of Cinderella to be highly relatable especially as she learns the balance between prioritising herself and prioritising others - I personally am yet to learn that balance as I still tend to prioritise the needs of others above my own which sometimes ends in a night of feeling unimportant, upset and angered generally leading to tears, ice cream and sad movies. I learnt so many points about myself and the outlook I hold through my journey reading this tale such as the approach I have toward important decisions tend to weigh on the path with the least risks taken.
A lesson learnt with the help of this book is that no matter how positive we try to be, no matter what our situations are, life can always throw lemons at us. It is up to us to learn how to dodge them and the only way that can happen is by facing them head on and learning from those lessons. Being a psychology student, I believe this book will help improve the lack of mental health education there is in primary schools. I honestly believe that primary schools should enforce reading this book into their lessons especially for the older primary school children that are slowly transitioning into middle school. The book teaches you how to empower yourself, identify your emotions and learn to be the best you can be in the face of trials and tribulation. The empowerment in this book strikes a chord with me as I was bullied during primary school and I believe this book would have helped me come to terms with my emotion and confusion regarding the occurrence, if only it had been available to me.
I have the utmost respect for George Helou as he has managed to turn a happily ever after type of fairytale into something so much more as the tale empowers it's readers and teaches them valuable life lessons that can be applied to our lives today. Mental health, balance, self empowerment and believing in yourself, this book has it all!
You can purchase your own little book of magic here, and read all about George Helou's inspiration behind the magnificent story here.
* items marked with an asterisk indicate items that have been sent to me. Please do read my disclosure policy for more information