The Truth About Happily Ever After by Karole Cozzo
Publishing Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Young Adult Fiction/Romance
The Premise from the Publisher: "Everything was supposed to be perfect. Alyssa has a job she loves, working as Cinderella at her favorite theme park; a fantastic group of friends; and a boyfriend who will no longer be long distance. But as the summer progresses, her prince becomes less charming and more distant, and Alyssa's perfect summer falls apart. Forced to acknowledge that life is not always a fairy tale, Alyssa starts working to pull her herself back together. Fortunately, she doesn't have to do it alone. With her friend Miller's support, she's determined to prove that she's more than just a pretty princess. And with his help, maybe she's finally ready for something better than dreams. Maybe she's ready for something real" (FF).
My overall thoughts and review: When I first read the premise of the book, I was all for it, since I love the idea of the theme park as the setting. The theme park is of course a nod to Disneyworld and instead of Disney, you get the Dominion/Enchanted, but the same characters seem to make an appearance. The main protagonist, Alyssa, plays Cinderella at the theme park. Cozzo speaks about "look-overs" which I'm not sure actually happens irl, but how each employee has to have a look-over to make sure they are in perfect condition for their role (i.e. weight), really made me cringe and the fact that Alyssa took it so incredibly to heart made me sad. I understand that Alyssa loved her job and at the end of the day, she found something she is passionate about and pursued which is great, but it's just so messed up, the entire concept of "look-overs." I also felt that Alyssa's calorie counting and constant need to work-out were red flags, despite her saying time and time again, that she did not have an eating disorder. I did like that a character named Miller, did intervene at one point and brought it up and offered his support (there should be more people like Miller in the world), but still, I felt it was handled really poorly in terms of how body image issues and the possibility of an eating disorder was woven into the plot. Towards the end of the book, Alyssa finds her footing, so to speak, where she works out because she wants to, not because she has to, and actually eats full, hearty meals without feeling the guilt. But a part of me wishes that her body image issues were addressed more fully and weren't simply: she met Miller and her brought out the best in her, so now she is all good. I know this is a Swoons Read title, so obviously, even when her original prince charming, Jake, becomes awful, another love interest does step in. I appreciate when characters grow not because of a love interest, but rather are able to pick up the pieces on their own. But goodness, what Jake did was completely awful and he really did owe Alyssa a proper apology. I did like that Harper gave her the truth and attempted to make amends with her. But Harper kept saying 'it was like fate' was bringing her and Jake together really made me cringe. Sorry, but that's just an excuse to make herself feel better for the entire situation. I don't usually take this long to read YA novels, but I think the reason why it took me forever was I just really disliked Jake and how he handled things and I would get so frustrated reading anything with him.
Despite what I've said earlier, there are parts that I really did enjoy about the book. I really did like Alyssa as a character despite all her faults, and it was nice seeing her come into herself in a way. She demonstrates a ton of strength throughout the book and I just really appreciated her resilience. I also really loved how friendship was a strong component of the book. Miller had Yael, and Alyssa had her princess girls and sorority girls. She had an amazing support system, even from people that are 'prickly' at times. One character, named Camilla, although harsh, tried to go out of her comfort zone at times and was the voice of reason in some scenarios. I really liked her and wish that there were more scenes for her. Also back to the love interest: Miller. He is such a sweet character and an all around good guy. He is just a lovely character and how he seems to lighten up a room definitely made me swoon. I enjoyed the book at the end of the day. I think the parts that got me excited before reading, ended up disappointing me, but other things that I was not expecting, genuinely surprised me (in a good way). Overall, if you are a fan of Disney and want something fuzzy in the romance department, this read is definitely for you!
My rating of the book: ✮✮✮.5 (3.5 stars)
Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)
Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions of the book are my own.