Updated: Aug 27, 2020
When Ella is born, she is "blessed" with the gift of obedience. Whatever someone tells her to say or do, she must follow through. It doesn't matter who tells her or what she is told to do, she must obey.
When she is 15, her mom passes away. After a time, her father remarries and Ella finds herself with two stepsisters. Ella stubbornly takes matters in her own hands and seeks out the fairy who 'blessed' her.
Along the way she meets interesting characters that help define who Ella is. She discovers that she is stronger than what she thought. There's adventure, humor and romance. The book is way different than the movie and is definitely a must read! —Staci
"Ella Enchanted" by Gail Carson Levine
At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the "gift" of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: "Instead of making me docile, Lucinda's curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally." When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella's life and well-being seem to be in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery as she tries to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you'll ever read.
Gail Carson Levine's examination of traditional female roles in fairy tales takes some satisfying twists and deviations from the original. Ella is bound by obedience against her will, and takes matters in her own hands with ambition and verve. Her relationship with the prince is balanced and based on humor and mutual respect; in fact, it is she who ultimately rescues him. Ella Enchanted has won many well-deserved awards, including a Newbery Honor.