cover image If the Shoe Fits

If the Shoe Fits

Julie Murphy. Disney-Hyperion, $26.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-368-05038-8

A recent design school grad finds love on a dating show in this inventive Cinderella retelling, the adult debut from bestselling YA author Murphy (Dumplin’). Murphy cleverly blends the conventions of fairy tales and reality TV to create an incisive commentary on both. Aspiring shoe designer Cindy Woods makes a nuanced plus-size Cinderella—savvy, confident, and well-loved, but vulnerable and still grieving her father’s death. Her worthy Prince Charming is Henry Mackenzie, the scion of a once-hot, now failing fashion empire, who hopes starring in Before Midnight will resuscitate his mother’s floundering brand. Cindy lands her part in the contestant pool through stepmother Erica, a driven TV exec. Refreshingly, she and Cindy’s stepsisters are just image-conscious, not evil, showcasing a supportive blended family dynamic. Though Before Midnight’s selection ceremony features scrolls instead of roses, the show faithfully mimics the essential elements of The Bachelor formula, with two dozen women vying for a single suitor’s attention, glamorous settings, and story manipulations on the part of the producers. The drawback is that these rituals take substantial time away from the central relationship. Those in it purely for the love story may be frustrated by the distractions, but readers interested in a smart exploration of the intersection of romance and reality TV will be overjoyed. [em]Agent: John Cusick, Folio Literary. (Aug.) [/em]