I had this book pitched to me that it was a gay re-telling of Cinderella, but after reading and finishing the book, it didn’t seem like a re-telling at all. The book stood as its own novel. Sure, there were parts of the book that had the Cinderella trope such as the missing shoe, and the step-family, but that is where the similarities end.
Chris Bellows is just trying to get through high school and survive being the only stepchild in the social-climbing Fontaine family, whose recently diminished fortune hasn’t dimmed their desire to mingle with Upper East Side society. Chris sometimes feels more like a maid than part of the family. But when Chris’s stepsister Kimberly begins dating golden boy J. J. Kennerly, heir to a political dynasty, everything changes. Because Chris and J. J. fall in love . . . with each other.
With the help of a new friend, Coco Chanel Jones, Chris learns to be comfortable in his own skin, let himself fall in love and be loved, and discovers that maybe he was wrong about his step-family all along. All it takes is one fairy godmother dressed as Diana Ross to change the course of his life.
This whole book is sassy, fun, and there were some amazing characters that had brilliant personalities. However, I am not gay, nor do I know any drag queens, so I cannot state whether the representation in this book is problematic or not. At times, I did find that the character of Coco Chanel Jones seemed a bit cliché, but again, I do not know whether this is an accurate portrayal of a drag queen.
As aforementioned, the characters in this book were really well written, but the J.J seemed to annoy me so much! He just kept leading Chris on and I just felt so protective over Chris that I just wanted J.J to go away and never come back. I understand that J.J has his career to think of and his families political lifestyle, but I think that the way J.J spoke about this to Chris was just hurtful.
I also loved that, even though this was a ‘re-telling’ of Cinderella, the dynamic between Chris and his step-family wasn’t the stereotypical: ‘serving them and doing whatever they need.’ Sure, there was some element of this in the book, but Chris explains that because he and his Dad didn’t have a great life before, he does all of the cooking and cleaning, because that’s just what he’s used to after living with his Dad in a run down house. So yes, Chris is still the ‘servant’ to his step-family, but he wants to do it, and it makes him feel comfortable.
“Straight person, I’m sorry if the differences in our sexual and emotional wiring makes you uncomfortable. Because that’s something that seems to get forgotten in all of this talk of sexual ‘preferences’. Being homosexual isn’t just about sex. It’s about who we have emotional romantic connections with, whose arms we actually feel at peace in, who completes the – dare I say it – fairy tale of what romantic and domestic bliss is for that individual… You know what, yes, I’m sorry I’m gay and if that creates issues for you, but I’m having to deal with it, and so must you. Because it’s not changing, it’s not going away, it’s always been there, whether we’re talking about my history or the history of the world, so we’re all just going to have to deal with it.”
– David Clawson, My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen
Now, the one thing that really got to me in this book was out *minor spoilers ahead* the family knew that Chris was gay and was waiting for him to come out. They understood that he would be scared so they thought – to make it easier – they would make a lot of derogatory and hurtful gay jokes to try and make him feel comfortable such as when Buck says to Chris: “first of all, I don’t want you thinking about my ass”. Actually thinking back, it always seems to be Buck that is making that kind of nasty comments towards Chris, and they all seem to go along similar lines.
Overall, this book was very enjoyable and I did read it in a day because of how funny it was because of Coco and Duane’s personalities. And I really did love the ending. It was a massive cliffhanger and I just need a second book because I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS! Like seriously… I need to know. I do recommend this book because it is so good, funny, great characters (apart from Buck and J.J) and it just seemed so original. I’ve never read a young adult book like this before! If someone has read this book and knows if the representation of gay characters and drag queens is problematic, please let me know so that I can point this out in my review!
Disclaimer: this book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review