In college, I took a secondary education class where we were all obligated to read a novel in our subject area and find a way to integrate it into the classroom. My one friend wanted to be a math teacher and she had trouble find a novel revolving around math for high school students that could be included for classroom use. Whenever I see a book revolving around math now, I always think of her and that class. It's refreshing to see so many more YA novels talking about math and science now, and I like the way Lily is so practical despite the fairy tale world around her. THE CINDERELLA THEOREM matches the practical with the absurd, creating a world for multiple types of readers. This novel also reads in a way that will appeal to middle-grade readers looking for something a little higher up that's still appropriate, as well as teenagers looking to be immersed in a good tale.
Lily loves math. When she grows up, she wants to be a code breaker or do pure mathematics research. She loves everything about math. She frequently thinks in mathematical terms and has footnotes explaining certain concepts to readers who many not be as math-savvy. When she finds out that her life has been partially a lie and that her father is not only alive, but the king of E. G. Smythe’s Salty Fire Land (A land that is an anagram for ‘fairy tales, myths, legends.') He now wants Lily to go to his world and train to become the Protector of the realm. Lily, however, isn't buying it. Fairy tales aren't REAL. And even if they were, she already knows what she wants to do for a living...and it doesn't include playing make-believe. But what if math can help bring rational solutions to a world that cares too much about hiding a problem rather than finding a solution? Maybe Lily can help make things right while still doing what she loves best.
The world of E. G. Smythe’s Salty Fire Land is creative and unique. While I'm not a fan of the land's name (What a mouthful!), I like the way it's set-up. The novel seeks to answer the age-old question: What happens after Happily Ever After? Does everyone stay happy? If happiness is lost, characters vanish and reappear in a villainous land. Lily is interning to learn how to keep everyone over a certain level of happy, and the system's structure really intrigued me. While the ending was a little abrupt, it did make me want to read another book in the series and see what happens to Lily next. It made me happy that a snippet of CALCULATING CHRISTMAS was included to whet my appetite!
I'm a fan of the way Ravan blended math with fairy tales, and created a world where it's okay for both to live in harmony. Why CAN'T someone enjoy both? Why must we stereotype? While math has never been my favorite thing, I loved seeing a character who lived, ate, and breathed the subject, and it was really fun to get in her head! THE CINDERELLA THEOREM breaks the mold and manages to appeal to many different demographics.