A wicked stepmother, a pair of glass slippers, a moral of optimism, generosity, hard work, and friendship… This is a story you’ve likely been told before. Cassandra Sage Briskman’s debut book If You Wish… is another of the many adaptations of this fairytale, but with a new point of view. Despite taking fundamental inspiration from the classic tale of Cinderella, Briskman’s novel is a completely different story in tone from the original and from the hundred or so other remakes.
Through straightforward storytelling, a conversational narrative, and a clean dialogue technique, Briskman gets right to the point in a succinct manner. The writing is casual and relaxed, providing a decidedly youthful voice that can relate to young readers, carrying the main character’s story along in an approachable fashion.
Simply put, this novel is a lightweight and effervescent look into a teen’s hardships. It is quickly digestible and easily understood, not entirely ground-breaking, but winsome nonetheless. For a first publication, and particularly for a young author, this novel shows promise.
The fleshed-out supporting characters are nice additions to this read, as well as the creative nods to the story’s predecessor, with subtle name and character references from both Disney’s 1950 animated and 2015 live action Cinderella films. In particular, some of the side characters show refreshing changes in heart that break them out of a cliched mold and add depth to the overall narrative. The references to Disney’s remakes includes the use of names such as Lucifer, Lady Tremaine, and more and as well as interactions including Lily James and Richard Madden, the two lead actors from Disney’s latest live action “Cinderella” directed by Kenneth Branagh. These sometimes hidden, sometimes obvious nods will add a fun and interactive quality to the read for Disney enthusiasts and fairy tale fans alike.
Rather than including “LGBT rights” as stated on the back cover, this reader feels it didn’t quite fulfill that promise, lacking a genuine and authentic conversation of LGBT rights. All in all, the inclusion of LGBT+ issues in this novel feels merely an afterthought, an attempt that could have been more fleshed out. .
Being a fast-paced read with many modern references, teen-romance themes, and an informal writing style, Briskman’s novel has a spirited and engaging voice. One thing is for certain, this isn’t like other “Cinderella” remakes. Like many a fairytale, it keeps one compelled from beginning to end, beginning the story with intrigue and concluding it with a light and happy ending.
By Gwendolyn K. Billings