Book Review

If The Shoe Fits

If the Shoe Fits

  • Author: Julie Murphy
  • Genre: Romance
  • Publication Date: August 3, 2021
  • Publisher: Hyperion Avenue
  • Series: Meant to Be #1

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am offering my honest opinion voluntarily.

CONTENT WARNING: mention of death of a parent, grief, mention of cancer

Rating: 5 out of 5.

After having just graduated with a degree in shoe design, and trying to get her feet on the ground, Cindy is working for her stepmother, who happens to be the executive producer of America’s favorite reality show, Before Midnight. When a spot on the show needs filling ASAP, Cindy volunteers, hoping it might help jump-start her fashion career, or at least give her something to do while her peers land jobs in the world of high fashion.

Turns out being the only plus size woman on a reality dating competition makes a splash, and soon Cindy becomes a body positivity icon for women everywhere. What she doesn’t expect? That she may just find inspiration-and love-in the process. Ultimately, Cindy learns that if the shoe doesn’t fit, maybe it’s time to design your own.

I just finished this book, and have already raved so much about it to a friend that she added it to her wish list. Because, yeah, it’s that good! I loved everything about it, and there was absolutely nothing that I didn’t enjoy. It reminded me a little of One to Watch with some Cinderella flavor, but plenty of humor and a flavor all its own.

Let me start with the characters. Cindy is amazing. She’s a recent fashion graduate, but is a little adrift in the world, which is a feeling that I can absolutely identify with. Cindy is a hilariously funny, incredibly confident, plus size woman with body-positive vibes galore. She’s easy to love, and her love of shoes stems from a connection to her mother, who passed away when she was young. I enjoyed getting to know all the other characters in the story — no one was quite what I expected (other than Addison, who turned out to be exactly what I expected). Despite the fact that she was competing with a bunch of women for the attention of one man, I loved the way that the vast majority of women developed actual friendships and didn’t get all catty. Henry was an intriguing character as well. Especially since there was such a big difference between who he really was and his on-stage persona. 

The setting was a great one. While it’s easy to make reality TV seem glamorous, this offers a behind-the-scenes look. It provides some gritty insight into how what glitters on TV isn’t always gold. And while we can sit and watch these romantic shows, what actually happens isn’t necessarily that way. Especially the “reality” part. It added a whole new layer to the show that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Obviously, a book featuring a plus-size MC, especially one on a reality show, is going to address some fatphobic ideas. First off, I truly appreciated that Cindy is a size 18+ and is still a confident and stylish woman. She addresses the bias in the fashion industry multiple times throughout the story, with various people. A line that specifically stuck out to me was the one where she talks about her own self-image and confidence:

“I’m on live TV practically courting this guy for the whole world to see, but old habits die hard, especially when you’re a fat girl who will forever be untangling her body image issues no matter how okay she is with herself.”

The humor involved in this book had me laughing out loud. So. Many. Times. It’s the kind of humor that I tend to use with my friends, so it was especially funny. The banter between all of the characters is witty, snappy, and at times, self-deprecating. The representation was fabulous as well. There’s characters of color, queer characters, a non-binary character, and of course, the plus size rep. The family dynamics are incredible in this book too. Cindy belongs to a blended family with circumstances that aren’t what I expected, given the Cinderella influences, but I loved seeing. Instead of a wicked stepmother, she has a super supportive stepmother, even if the relationship is a bit awkward. And her stepsisters aren’t evil. They’re super sweet and incredible to her, even if they had a rocky start. 

This is one of the best romances that I’ve read this year, and the fairy tale influences just took this story to a whole new level. If there’s one corny, silly, adorable romance that you read this year, let this one be it. 

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