Contemporary retelling takes success

Casey Spencer '17

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At some point in everyone’s life, they look for their happily ever after with that special someone. It is the theme of many books, movies, and television shows. People try to portray the perfect fairytale ending in different ways, with some being successful and others experiencing serious flops. Author Kelly Oram took a chance on twisting the classic fairytale of Cinderella into a modern feat with a happily ever after ending in her 2014 novel Cinder & Ella.

Upon its release in late 2014, the contemporary novel became available to readers everywhere on amazon and quickly made its way to the front of Amazon’s top twenty list. After the unexpected success of the first novel, Oram eventually penned a second novel in the series titled Happily Ever After, which released April 2017.

Cinder & Ella tells the story of Ellamara (Ella) and how her perfect world was turn upside down after a tragic accident that took her mother and left Ella with over seventy percent of her body scarred and crippled. After eight months in the hospital and one suicide attempt, Ella is forced to move across the country to live with her father who left her as a child without a goodbye or a glance back. Through her endeavors Ella must battle the strife of trying to rebuild a life with the father who abandoned her, complicating things are Ella’s supermodel stepmother who goes about trying to help Ella in all the wrong ways, and the stepsisters who took her place as her father’s daughters. Through all this, Ella tries to reconnect with her anonymous internet best friend, Cinder. Even though Ella has known Cinder for years before her accident, she does not know that he really is Hollywood heartthrob Brian Oliver.

Unlike most fairy tale stories, the central focus of the novel is not the romance between Ella and Brian or Cinderella and the charming prince who saved her from her life of conflict. There are various obstacles Ella faces throughout both novels that Oram masterfully executes while also creating a world that readers can relate to.

In the novel, Ella ends up going to the same school as her stepsisters and continuously gets bullied by other classmates regarding her scars and her limp. The students make fun of her disabilities while also verbally harassing her. Her classmates along with her family add to the insecurities that plague Ella after her accident.

At its core, the novel displays the modern-day concepts of bullying and teenage insecurities. Readers partake in an inside look at the troubles that plague Ella and the internal conflicts that every person faces at some points in their lives. This displays the underlying theme of both novels of the series which is being okay with who you are on the inside because it is only the inside the matters.

Besides the relatable concepts of the novel, there is also the writing approach that Oram took on the novel. Hidden underneath the scars that Ella bears physically and mentally, there is the framework of the Cinderella fairytale. Ella has the complicated stepmother along with her good and evil stepsisters. And there cannot be a Cinderella story without the fairy godmother and the animals that continuously come to Cinderella’s aid.

In the novel, Oram carefully crafts these fairytale characters into people of the Ella’s world. Through the various people Ella meets and becomes friends with, the fictional characters are displayed with a contemporary aspect and the author’s unique twist. Also, Oram interconnects other worlds into Cinder and Ella with some of her other novels with the characters interacting with one another at least once in the story. The readers get an inside look at the thoughts and feelings the characters have of one another.

It is not easy to attempt a retelling of any classic  story, but with Oram’s Cinder and Ella series, the retelling succeeds. The style of the narrative and  the conflict that the main character faces conveys a wonderfully executed modern fairy tale novel in which many people can enjoy.


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Contemporary retelling takes success