About Anna Merian (From her website) : grew up in Houston with an older brother and a younger brother and a large but close-knit network of aunts, uncles, and cousins spreading across the state of Texas. I graduated from Rice University with a degree in English, and earned my MFA in creative writing with an emphasis in writing for children from the New School in New York. There I was lucky to meet CAKE Literary founders Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra, who started me on the Love Sugar Magic journey.
I live in Houston with my dog Cisco. I have taught creative writing and high school English and currently work as a tutor for students of all ages across Houston. In my free time I love knitting, playing full-contact quidditch, and singing along to songs in English, Spanish, and American Sign Language.
17-year-old vegan feminist Ellen Lopez-Rourke has one muggy Houston summer left before college. She plans to spend every last moment with her two best friends before they go off to the opposite ends of Texas for school. But when Ellen is grounded for the entire summer by her (sometimes) evil stepmother, all her plans are thrown out the window.
Determined to do something with her time, Ellen (with the help of BFF Melissa) convinces her parents to let her join the local muggle Quidditch team. An all-gender, full-contact game, Quidditch isn’t quite what Ellen expects. There’s no flying, no magic, just a bunch of scrappy players holding PVC pipe between their legs and throwing dodgeballs. Suddenly Ellen is thrown into the very different world of sports: her life is all practices, training, and running with a group of Harry Potter fans.
Even as Melissa pulls away to pursue new relationships and their other BFF Xiumiao seems more interested in moving on from high school (and from Ellen), Ellen is steadily finding a place among her teammates. Maybe Quidditch is where she belongs.
But with her home life and friend troubles quickly spinning out of control–Ellen must fight for the future that she wants, now she’s playing for keeps.
Thoughts and Themes: I never really got into Harry Potter so I was a little worried that I wouldn’t have a great time reading this book. I was pleasantly surprised though as I really enjoyed reading this book. There were so many portions of it that I was highlighting on my kindle and just putting exclamation points because of how much these things resonated with me.
I really liked how this book points out the problems with JFK and really makes a point to discuss those issues. I thought it was so important that this book made there be a focus on equity especially on gender in the sport and how they made this important to the main character and her friends.
I really enjoyed this Cinderella retelling and how it reinterpreted it and made it a contemporary story. I liked that it didn’t keep strictly to what a traditional Cinderella story is and liked that the twist this book had on that type of story. I liked how in this book there is a shift in who saves whom and in the way the relationships shift throughout the novel.
Characters: The story is centered around Ellen, her best friends, and the quidditch team that she is playing with for the summer. I really enjoyed how the dynamic between Ellen and Melissa shifted through the novel and Ellen realizing how she was the one who was not being the best friend she wanted everyone else to be. I also really liked how each of the characters develop throughout the book as they come to realize things about themselves.
Something that I really liked about this story that most young adult books don’t have is the family that is included throughout. I connected with the struggle that the main character feels as she thinks that her parents are against her and conspiring against her. I also liked how strict they were even if she was going to college in a few weeks/months. It felt a lot like the way that I felt about my parents at that age and there were some moments I really felt for her.
Writing Style: The story is told in first person from the view point of the main character. I thought it was good that the story was told from this perspective as we get more of how she feels about the things that are happening. I liked that we only got Ellen’s perspective because it made me feel bad for her and feel as if these other characters were the villains in her story. I liked how you can see how she feels throughout this book and you see her feelings towards others shift as their actions change.