The Truth About Happily Ever After
Publication date: May 16th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Chin up, Princess, or the crown will slip.
A theme park princess must put her life back together after her happily ever after falls apart in The Truth About Happily Ever After, a contemporary YA romance from Karole Cozzo, author of How to Keep Rolling After a Fall and How to Say I Love You Out Loud.
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.
Karole lives outside of Philadelphia, PA with her loving husband, exuberant little girl, and smiley little boy. She adores YA Romance, because it would be awesome if life in general had a requisite feel-good happy ending rule. Vices include obscene Haribo gummy consumption, addiction to Starbucks NF vanilla lattes, and tendency to hoard Bath and Body Works 3-wick candles.
Everyone has their ideas about what their ideal happily ever after will look like — but some are more dedicated to that pursuit than others. Something similar could be said for contemporary YA: some are closer to the ideal, “relationship-goals” type of romance readers see in these books. While The Truth About Happily Ever After by Karole Cozzo didn’t have me madly swooning over the main couple and their romance, it still provided enough fluff to keep me satisfied.
The Truth About Happily Ever After follows Alyssa, a Cinderella face character actress for the beloved Enchanted Enterprises, and her semi-charmed life. She’s a popular addition to her sorority, she’s beautiful, she plays one of the most recognizable characters for a large children’s entertainment franchise, and — best of all — Alyssa has the ideal boyfriend in her beau of about a year. However, during her second summer at Enchanted Enterprises, the glass slipper starts to crack, especially once Prince Charming starts gradually turning into a frog. Can Alyssa pull everything together, or is her dream now a nightmare?
Overall, I thought that this book was cute and decently written. (Which is just about the bare minimum for Contemporary YA for me these days, really.) I really enjoyed the commitment to diversity present within the book, as some of the major side characters are of different racial and sexuality minorities. For example, the twins who play Snow White and Rose Red are of Chinese descent, then, later on, we’re introduced to a lesbian character who isn’t — GASP — immediately attracted to our female MC. Additionally, I felt like Cozzo did a good job in accomplishing a few important points for the genre: showing her audience how characters feel about each other rather than just telling us, and her attention to detail within the setting of the book. It’s so easy to imagine oneself stepping right into this particular world, whereas I often feel within other Contemporary YA books, the authors don’t really do anything to establish any world building at all.
However, there are a few sticking points within the book that made it speak to me less than I had hoped. I kind of really felt duped by Alyssa’s ultimate decision at the end of the book; the book emphasizes the point of personal growth and development as a person, especially when it comes to Alyssa’s ideas of romance and relationships, but I don’t feel as if she came out too much better than how she came in. I feel like there was too much of a commitment to the ideal “Happily Ever After” for all characters involved, which I get, but what kind of message does that send to the target audience? Truth be told, this whole cast — especially the main characters — suffered from that same kind of “no lessons learned” disease. Kind of a bummer. Furthermore, while I do appreciate the inclusion of some more diverse folks, they weren’t fleshed out at all. It almost felt as if they were tokenized a bit, like they were a tick in a box for a checklist.
If you’re a Disney fan, you’d definitely have fun with this as an “inside” look of the kind of drama that can happen when the costumes and wigs are off. Additionally, even if you’re just in the mood for something lighthearted that can give you a quick boost on your 2017 reading challenge, this may also be for you. However, do be aware that this is not going to rock your world or change your perception about Contemporary YA. But it is fun, just like Disney.
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