Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Prince and the Dressmaker - Jen Wang

Title: The Prince and the Dressmaker
Author: Jen Wang
Publisher: First Second, 2018 (Paperback)
Length: 288 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Adult; Historical Fiction, Fairy Tale
Started: April 17, 2018
Finished: April 18, 2018

From the inside cover:

Paris, at the dawn of the modern age. Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride - or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia - the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian's secret weapon is his brilliant dressmaker, Frances - his best friend and one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone's secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect her friend?

Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.

I fell in love with this book. It's an adorable story that not only gives you the warm and fuzzies, it restores your faith in humanity for the time that you read it.

Prince Sebastian is sixteen and visiting his Countess aunt in Paris for the summer while his parents are searching for candidates for his future bride. He feels pressured to do as his parents expect, but he also has a secret he is reluctant to saddle any future bride with: he likes to wear dresses. When he sees  some of Frances'  ground-breaking work at a fashion show, he hires her to be his personal dressmaker.  With Frances' help, soon Sebastian is turning heads as alter-ego Lady Crystallia, and people want to know who makes her clothes. Unable to further her own career while still maintaining Sebastian's secret, Frances feels conflicted, and Sebastian's parents are pushing wedding plans more than ever.

This is an amazing story of a gender non-conforming prince who feels that he can't be true to himself without disappointing those around him. I like how the author added in Frances' story as well, not only to illustrate her goal of wanting to be a well-known designer, but also to show that sometimes keeping secrets for a friend isn't the best way to help them. I also have to give the author credit for how she ended the story: the interaction between Sebastian, his father, and Frances was just absolutely perfect. It shows that when families and friends come together to support each other, we can all have more resilience towards taking on challenges that scare us. It's interesting how Sebastian's gender identity is left up to the reader to interpret: we're not sure if this is the beginning of him realizing that he might be transgender, or that he's simply a cisgender male who likes to wear dresses. Either way, I'm so glad that type of gender diversity is portrayed in this graphic novel.

A must-read, if not for the gender diversity then for just how freaking cute it is. This should also be on lists for classrooms and school libraries too.

Thoughts on the cover:
Very cute, just like the content. I like the shot of Frances and Sebastian set against the backdrop of Lady Crystallia's dress.

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