The Big Bad Wolf Tells All

Carried Away

The Charm Stone

The Cinderella Rules

Dear Prince Charming

Heat of the Night

The Legend MacKinnon

Legend of the Sorcerer

The Royal Hunter

Tease Me

Walk on the Wild Side

Your Wish is My Command

 
Sleeping With Beauty
by Donna Kauffman
(Bantam, $11.00, G) ISBN 0-553-38306-X
**
The original Sleeping Beauty didn’t grow up because until the hero kissed her she was, well, unconscious. Unfortunately, the heroine of this story doesn’t have that excuse.

At 28, Lucy Harper, self-confessed “dorky spaz,” is still hoping she’s a late bloomer. She’s always known that she was never going to be one of the popular girls, although she continues to hope that one of the hunky studs she longs for will see past her ordinary looks and fall madly in love with her inner fabulousness.

While she waits for that to happen, she has her job as a schoolteacher and her friends, Jana and Grady. Although also part of the out crowd in high school, Jana is now a successful sports reporter happily married to an NHL goalie, and the brilliant Grady is an engineer who does something complicated with technology. Grady has no trouble getting girls, but somehow he always seems to be available on the group’s pizza nights and to rescue Lucy from whatever little disasters her dorky spazziness gets her into.

All three are invited to their tenth high school reunion, and Grady and Jana are appalled to discover that Lucy plans to attend. Not only that, but to prepare for it, she’s going to get a week-long makeover from the fairy godmothers at Glass Slipper, Inc. so she can go back as a knockout and knock the socks off everyone who snubbed her. This particularly includes Jason Prescott, the magnificent blue-eyed, broad-shouldered athlete she had a crush on, and who humiliated her by refusing to dance with her at the senior prom.

In spite of her best friends’ misgivings, Lucy toddles off to Inner Beauty Boot Camp so she can free her inner princess and wow everybody at the reunion.

Except, there’s just one problem. As far as I can tell, there is no inner Lucy. Her friends talk about how smart and witty she is, but all we ever see is Lucy whining endlessly about how she’s felt like a loser all her life because the cool kids made fun of her.

Oh, by the way, did I mention that this book is supposed to be funny? For our entertainment, Lucy shrieks her way through a Brazilian wax, makes a major production out of learning to walk on high heels (“windmilling” arms, grabbing onto things, the lot), and talking in that overly slangy way that’s supposed to sound hip.

There’s just one problem, and it’s a real conundrum for the reader. The reader definitely doesn’t laugh with Lucy, because she doesn’t find any of what’s happening remotely funny. Which means that if we find all her awkward pratfalls hilarious…um, doesn’t that put us in the same category as those schmucks who thought she was a joke in school? Just asking.

No matter how much I might have sympathized with Lucy at the beginning of the book, after 351 pages of relentless non-stop ‘poor me’ I was sick and tired of the pity party. Lucy finally wakes the heck up – a moment instigated by her True Love’s kiss, of course – and the transition is about that abrupt and that satisfying.

Sure, there’s a kiss, and there’s even a brief, nebulous consummation, but – in spite of the cover copy – there isn’t a romance. Which is really a shame. Gr…I mean, the true prince looked like a really nice, beta kinda hero, but we see almost nothing of him. Until the Big Moment. Which is in his point of view. (That was fairly strange.)

Actually, the book makes no secret of Prince Charming’s identity. Apparently, though, the author thought she could just wave her magic wand and just give that romance stuff the old yada yada. After all, we’d rather listen to Lucy obsess about how hard it is to be her, than watch her gradually learn to appreciate a nice guy who was never King of the Prom, right? Right?

Yeah, right. Sorry, but this fairy tale is a pumpkin express to nowhere.

-- Judi McKee


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