It Started With Goodbye by Christina June
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Thank you, Blink, for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Nothing this summer had gone the way I imagined. But maybe it was supposed to be that way so I could turn the page and move onto a new, clean chapter in my story.
This contemporary retelling of Cinderella is nothing short of literary perfection. I even liked it more than the original fairy tale. It was a quick read for me, but I thought that its content was surprisingly hefty.
It Started with Goodbye features elements inspired by its predecessor. Essentially, it is about a teenage girl who finds herself unhappy in her own home, particularly because of her mean stepmother. The doting father archetype is also present, as well as the beloved fairy godmother and the infamous stepsister. Finally, let’s not forget Prince Charming, although he is relatively negligible in this book.
When I come to think of it, It Started with Goodbye is not a love story. One of the reasons why I loved it is that it focused on Tatum’s relationship with her family and friends. In fact, one of the main conflicts in the story is the strained connection between Tatum and her best friend, Ashlyn. The identity of Tatum’s very own Prince Charming isn’t even revealed until (whisper whisper). 😉 It is a truth widely accepted that YA contemporary books generally put a premium on romantic themes. Hence, in light of its sober content, I really found this book to be very refreshing. Surprisingly, the lack of romance (combined with the simplistic writing) even made the novel fast-paced. I could have read it in one day, but I restrained myself because I wanted to savor each intriguing chapter.
I also loved this book because of its well-developed and down to earth characters. I especially liked Tatum because her inner monologues made me feel a variety of emotions. It was also hilarious how she tended to overthink the valedictions of her letters. To my delight, I even managed to like Tatum’s stepmother and stepsister because they were suspiciously more than what they seemed. Reading about them made me understand why retellings of fairy tale villains became so popular nowadays. This might sound strange, but the only character I disliked was Tatum’s loving but naive father.
I may have given this book 5 stars, but I did encounter one minor problem: Tatum’s relationship with her mysterious Prince Charming was reminiscent of a certain overhyped novel written by Nicola Yoon. Haha. I shall leave it at that. If you’re curious, please go ahead and read this book!
In the end, It Started with Goodbye is a new addition to my shelf of favorite books in 2017. Even though this book is a retelling of Cinderella, the feelings it evoked in me were beautifully authentic. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a short yet meaningful book.