Broken (2008), by Alyxandra Harvey-Fitzhenry

This review was first published in Resource Links Magazine, Canada’s national journal devoted to the review and evaluation of Canadian English and French resources for children and young adults. It appears in volume 14.3.

Broken

Another modern interpretation of the Cinderella story, Broken presents us with Ash Perrault, whose refreshing adolescent voice teenage readers will be certain to identify with.  Ash is being saddled with the requisite step-mother and two step-sisters, but ultimately learns that “step-” is not invariably preceded by “evil.”  In fact, the “perfect” step-sister is not only socially supportive of Ash, but has issues of her own.  Nonetheless, combined with normal adolescent angst fostered by Ash’s crush on the most popular boy in school, his ex-girlfriend’s antagonism, Ash’s best-friend’s lack of understanding, Ash’s life has become too complicated.  On top of all this, glass has a nasty habit of shattering when she is around (hence the title…).  If you can get past the marked similarities between Ash’s affliction and Roald Dahl’s Matilda’s power, and the parallel between her relationship with Mouse, her best friend, and Mia’s with Lily in the movie version of The Princess Diaries, the plot is sufficiently captivating.  While there is no single element that stands out as earth-shatteringly original, Alyxandra Fitzhenry manages to combine aspects of many young, teenaged girls’ lives into a unique situation, lived by a unique character.  She also manages to have an obvious amount of fun in creating her tale, lacing her insight into adolescents’ troubles with subtle and not-so-subtle intertextual allusions (the protagonist’s name, for example) to keep reader’s thinking of more than just the plot.

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