I picked up If the Shoe Fits, the first in a series of fairy tale modernizations, awhile ago but finally got around to reading it this week. It’s also the first Julie Murphy I’ve read which feels silly because I loved the adaptation of Dumplin’ on Netflix.
As you might guess from the title, this first book in the series is a take on Cinderella and it’s just delightful. It’s set on a Bachelor-like reality show which keeps the tone light but also deals with parental loss and fitting into a step-family, even one you actually get along with and love in your own way, unlike a more traditional Cinderella story. Cindy lost her mother at a young age then several years later, her dad remarried Erica, a reality television with two daughters a year or two older than Cindy. Her stepsisters are the cool, slender, popular types while Cindy is a little more awkward and a lot more sized like a typical American woman. During her senior year in high school, Cindy’s dad dies in a car accident, leaving her to live with her step-family that she had been living with for several years at that point but still didn’t quite seem to fit with.
Still, even though another big change has happened in her life, Cindy goes off to Parsons in New York as she had always planned to study fashion, something she has loved for years, especially shoes. She seems to be doing fine until her senior year when the grief from losing her parents, especially her father, that she thought she had made her peace with come back to unsettle her. She manages to graduate just barely but doesn’t get any employment or apprenticeship offers out of her senior show like her friend and roommate Sierra did, so she returns to LA with a plan to nanny her triplet half-siblings while she planned her next move. On her plane trip, she meets Henry, a handsome stranger who returns a shoe from her large collection that she had been carrying in her bag because she couldn’t manage to squeeze them all in her luggage.
Nannying doesn’t last for long, though, because Before Midnight, her stepmother’s reality show, has some last minute contestant drop-outs so Cindy and her step-sisters join the pool of women vying for the
Bachelor suitor’s heart (and a cool $100k). The tone of the book remains light but deals with how the world of entertainment treats plus sized women and how reality television is often a means to launch an influencer career and is almost entirely manipulated. I loved this book and will definitely be reading more Julie Murphy in the future as well as By the Book, a Beauty and the Beast adaptation by Jasmine Guillory that’s the next in the Meant to Be series.