Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 13 to 18
- Grade: 4
- Reading age: 9 to 10
Seventeen-year-old Char has studied music, but didn't think of it as a future until she posted a video of herself singing and it went viral. So now, instead of going to queer youth events or taking part in the Gay Lesbian Alliance, Char spends her time figuring out how to get enough online fame to fuel a singing career. When one of her videos is bombarded with vicious online comments she is pleased to find an app that offers support and encouragement to people who are being bullied online.
Using the handle Charming, Char gets to know the creator and moderator of the app, who calls herself Cinders. Cinders inspires Char to reconsider her obsession with having the ideal online presence and concentrate on who she really is. But when Cinders turns out to be Ash, a shy girl who goes to the same school, Char must find a way to show Ash how much she means to her.
With a modern female version of Prince Charming as the main character, Charming expands the story of the fairy-tale prince to one of a teen girl who learns the true nature of fame and love.
About the author
Born in Denmark, Mette Bach grew up in North Delta. Her essays have appeared in Vancouver Review, First Person Queer (Arsenal Pulp Press), Second Person Queer (Arsenal Pulp Press) and Visible: A Femmethology (Homofactus Press). Her journalism has appeared in The Advocate, The Globe & Mail, and Xtra. She has an MFA in creative writing from UBC, writes a column called Not That Kind of Girl for Outlooks Magazine (Canada's LGBTQ Magazine) and Out Look Weekly (in Columbus, Ohio). She teaches four creative writing courses for the Continuing Studies Department at Langara College. Karen X. Tulchinsky directed Mette Bach's first screenplay, Ms. Thing, which played at film festivals around the world. Daniella Sorrentino directed her second screenplay, Viral, which will debut at festivals this summer. Off the Highway is her first book.
"Clearly the LGBTQ+ community is central to the novel. As well, the issue of how social media is used and abused is key ... both [Cinders and Charming] deal with complex modern themes and complicated challenges which will resonate with young adult readers."
CM: Canadian Review of Materials
"[Charming and Cinders] are engaging stories that fill a need for reluctant readers seeking positive, inspiring stories of same-sex relationships."