FicCentral received a free copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours.
Publisher: Swoon Reads on May 16, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (YA)
Everything was supposed to be perfect. Alyssa has a job she loves, working as Cinderella at her favorite theme park; a fantastic group of friends; and a boyfriend who will no longer be long distance. But as the summer progresses, her prince becomes less charming and more distant, and Alyssa's perfect summer falls apart.
Forced to acknowledge that life is not always a fairy tale, Alyssa starts working to pull her herself back together. Fortunately, she doesn't have to do it alone. With her friend Miller's support, she's determined to prove that she's more than just a pretty princess. And with his help, maybe she's finally ready for something better than dreams. Maybe she's ready for something real.
The Truth About Happily Ever After by Karole Cozzo
The Hook: With her job at a famous theme park, Alyssa gets to be a real life fairy tale princess. And with her very own Prince Charming at her side, she seems to have everything she could possibly want. But her boyfriend is growing more and more distant, the new girls seems a little off around Alyssa, and when her fairy tale ending falls apart, she doesn’t know how to pick up the pieces. Figuring out who she is, what she wants, and who in her life is truly important will be the key to writing her own happily ever after.
The Verdict: I have so many juxtaposed feelings about this book that I feel like I should be writing two separate reviews. I guess I should start at the beginning…
Alyssa is Cinderella at a local theme park, playing princess to mobs of little girls who idolize fairy tale royalty. Her boyfriend Jake is alternately affectionate and stand-offish, and as much as Alyssa wants to believe everything’s okay, she’s got a bad feeling about it all. Always the optimist, though, she tamps down her dread and tries to keep their relationship moving forward.
Jake is difficult to understand, which is exactly the point. In most books, his character would be so obviously over the relationship that I’d want to shake the heroine until she woke up and saw the glaring truth. However, Jake truly has mixed feelings, and it comes across perfectly in his actions. He’s not as interested as it seems he should be one moment, and then the next moment he’s sweet as can be. Anyone who’s ever had a relationship fall apart for no concrete reason can certainly recognize the cold, heavy dread and constant confusion Alyssa feels around him.
Alyssa, though, doesn’t seem to come across the way she should in the story. She’s ridiculously wrapped up in her princess persona, putting far too much importance on a job that dresses her up like a cartoon and surely doesn’t pay enough for that kind of cultish loyalty. While sweet, she also comes across as somewhat superficial and vapid, and I’m not sure that’s what the author intended. It’s not that I disliked her at first; it’s just that she seemed to have the emotional maturity of a thirteen year old, and she was impossible for me to relate to. Fortunately, she came more into her own around the time everything was falling apart for her, and somewhere in between her mourning her failed relationship and moving on without necessarily realizing it, she became a character I actually cared about. The time spent showing her a stereotypical sorority girl and briefly explaining her family’s fall from financial grace (a detail that didn’t really seem to play a bigger part in the story) would have been better spent establishing some kind of emotional depth in her character.
Finally, though, once Jake was out of the picture, the way Alyssa was written seemed to turn a much-needed corner. At that point, she became every young woman who’s ever had her ideal relationship future stripped away, and her interactions with her friends seemed much more natural. Of course, that’s when Miller began to play a bigger role, and I’m not sure his part could have been written better. He was fun, considerate, and just about perfect for Alyssa’s previous broken heart. I can’t even blame him for the conflict he created when questioning Alyssa’s intentions, since as much as they were right for each other, he knew he wasn’t the Prince Charming she’d placed so much importance on before.
But for all my misgivings about Alyssa’s character, The Truth About Happily Ever After turned out to be a pretty good read. It was silly and romantic, in that way it seems love can only be when you’re young and still believe in fairy tales. The secondary cast of characters was diverse and entertaining, with even the “villain” turning out to have a respectable human side. And through it all, though these were college age kids who were no strangers to bedroom antics, the scenes stayed clean — and that’s such a good, rare find these days. This is one of the few YA/NA novels that can safely be shared with younger teens who are still looking forward to their own happily ever afters.
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