A feminist, justice seeking Cinderella with a knack for making culturally insensitive remarks while wooing the oppressed, blue-collared workers.
Hmm…that's a fragment isn't it? Can you tell that English wasn't my first language?
Hoppish was! (ask my wife!)
Back to the book at hand (or finger or eyes or..whatever)
Just Ella is one of my wife's favorite books. Ever once in a while, she will break it out and read it (this time she checked out the audio book – oh, and "ever once in a while" is very relative as it's been over eight years since the last time she read it…unless I was a typically male and missed the event…which I'm not counting out). =/
After much prodding, I decided to read Just Ella – actually, it was after Em started quoting it in response to my rants about justice, the kingdom of God and Jesus.
Yelp – here I am reading all kinds of theology books – wading through big words in German, Latin and English – mean while Em is reading a nice fictional store, emerging with a better understand of justice and the kingdom….. sigh.[@more@]
Plot – hmm… see Wikipedia.
Ok – I'll give you a brief run down (along with my thoughts, of course). =P
In this re-telling of Cinderella, Ella (the main character) creates her own destiny through hard work, good brains and guts. There are no fairy godmothers or magic.
Once in the castle, Ella finds out that Prince Charming is anything but 'charming' (love the puns). So instead of marrying him, she runs away and becomes a doctor helping war refugees. Along the way she meets a young man with a heart for the refugees (he starts the refugee camp) – yet, she doesn't marry him. At least, not at first – after she "finds" herself, then she agrees to marry him.
Points to Ponder:
1) The "self made women" – view is promoted through out the story as Ella over comes various challenges. At first this feminist propaganda rubbed me the wrong way – then I started thinking (a dangerous thing):
The book was written in the late 1990's – about the same period as the new empowered women movement. Women were finally beginning to enjoy the success of the previous generations in that women were able to do all the same things men were (jobs, voting, living, having credit cards, etc).
At the same time, there was an under current of "little princess" toys and stories – teaching young girls to sit under a tree and wait for some gentlemen to come by and "rescue" them. Shoot – at one point the villainess of the story tells Ella that women are suppose to do nothing but look pretty.
Just Ella brings a refreshing view to the stage – love, marriage, and men are all good things – yet at the same time, the heroin is not sitting around waiting with starry eyes.
2) "Doing It Myself" – The author threw in a great twist to the whole feminist deal. You see at the same time that the author was empowering women to be themselves and case their dreams; she was also teaching them that they can't do it themselves.
In addition to one's own willpower and go-get-them attitude, Just Ella highlights the view that we need friends to help us along. It's a both / and deal.
Oh – let's not forget "god". At first the book seems to promote an atheist view on religion and deities – yet at the end, Ella realizes that she could not of done what she did by herself. There must have been some deity or something that helped her along the way (ie. helping her be in the right place at the right time; providing friends; and other seemingly accidental things).
3) Justice Issues – In the book one of the main characters in the story promotes the view that servants (ie. non-royal, non-rich people) want to serve their "betters."
Talk about a justification for the greed, laziness, and down-the-nose attitude! The author does a great job at highlighting the fact that the rich are just as human as the poor. Actually, it pretty much tears down the rich and brings to light the injustice done via their greed.
4) Finding a Cause – this was an awesome motif in the book. You see, through out the story, Ella is trying to find a "cause" or a reason to give her life. At first she thought it was finding "true love" or marriage – but she quickly learns that "love" fades and marriage isn't all that.
So she runs away and tries to find herself…. At the end of the book, Ella still doesn't know that her "cause" is or what she wants to do with her life. Yet, she makes this profound statement (my paraphrase):
Maybe it's ok to give oneself to the cause of the man you love.
Wow! Did you catch that?
Here is a powerful story that captures real-life better then…well…better then 90% of the books out there. It tells young people (well, mostly girls as I don't know many young men who would read this book), that why it's good to chase after their dreams – there are times when you don't have a dream; in which case, it's ok to give your life to the dream or cause of your husband.
Double wow – this review has turned into a book itself.
Give Just Ella a read – and remember to read it cover to cover as the lessons within really take the whole story to develop.