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Rapunzel. You know the drill. Girl with super-long hair locked in a super-tall tower by a super-evil witch, all over some stolen lettuce. There’s also a super-determined prince, and in more recent versions, the occasional frying pan. It’s a fairytale filled with fantastical oddities. So when I saw in the blurb that Don’t Fall is a contemporary retelling of Rapunzel, I was definitely more than a little curious as to how Rachel was going to achieve this, while still holding on to the things that make Rapunzel such a unique story. What I discovered is an interesting and relatively realistic portrayal of how the basic story of Rapunzel could play out in real-world, non-magical circumstances. Schieffelbein has obviously put a lot of thought into how to make the basic plot points work practically within our world, and ends up with a story that roughly parallels the fairy tale in way that is organic, not forced.
Anya is our Rapunzel. Cloistered away from life by her extremely over-protective mother, Anya’s world is limited to her home and the public library. She’s monitored constantly and privately tutored, which effectively means she’s got no real friends or social life to speak of. And the one real relationship she does have, her mother, is a complicated one. This being all she’s ever known, Anya deals with her situation better than most would, I imagine. It is, after all, all she’s ever known. Anya’s generally a pretty sunny, “glass half full” kind of person; passionate, artistic, funny, cute, friendly, and kind. And while perhaps dissatisfied with her extremely limited boundaries, she gives no thought to escaping her mother’s prison until meeting Zander introduces her to all kinds of new possibilities.
Zander is a very sweet, very normal guy. A little clueless, a little nervous, he becomes all kinds of adorable whenever Anya’s around. He’s just a good guy too, and remarkably patient. I particularly loved his relationship with his parents, and more specifically, his mom. It’s sweet.
And since we’re talking about it, may I just say that I like Rachel’s portrayal of teenagers. They feel authentic. A little angsty, a bit naive, living in their own microcosm, in the midst of self-discovery, almost adult, but not quite there yet. The parents still play a large, and influential role in their teen’s lives (for better or for worse); there are rules to follow and expectations to meet. It’s just refreshing to read about teens who feel like actual teens.
And this played out into the romance as well. It was sweet, and cute, and at times adorably awkward. However, once their secret romance gets more serious, the whole “When are you going to confront your mom?”/”I should really tell my mom.” aspect did start getting a bit old. But, that said, I understood Anya’s reluctance to rock the boat. She’s been conditioned by her mother, and has a deep fear of disappointing her. For years, she’s lived this abnormal, anti-social, restrictive life which is arguably a form of emotional abuse, and to stand up to her mother is a huge, life-altering deal. So, I get it. I do. But still.
Also, I will say that I expected something slightly edgier and a bit darker than Don’t Fall ended up being. If you’re familiar with the original fairytale, you probably have some inkling as to what I’m referring to, and the plot certainly had the opportunity to go those routes if it had been so inclined. However, it never went to the dark places. I’ll admit, part of me wishes it had. I think it would’ve been really interesting to see where those paths would’ve led. But, I also appreciate the fact that it didn’t. Sometimes I just need a book that leaves me happy sighing upon reading the last page, and Don’t Fall is that book.
Overall, Don’t Fall is a cute, romantic, refreshingly feel-good retelling of Rapunzel.
1 ebook of Don’t Fall + $10 Amazon Gift Card (INT)