Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 13 to 18
- Grade: 4
- Reading age: 9 to 10
Seventeen-year-old Ash has been living with her mother in her mother's boyfriend's house, along with his daughter Mimi and son Noah. When Ash's mother dies, Ash stays so she can attend a high school with a top coding program. But her stepsiblings take advantage of Ash's precarious living situation, with Mimi posting embarrassing pictures of Ash online and Noah making her do his homework. Ash's only solace is the social media app she has developed to support people who are being bullied online.
Using the handle Cinders, Ash starts chatting online with a girl who calls herself Charming. They become close, without ever meeting in person. When Ash finds out that Charming is Char, an aspiring singer who goes to her school, she admires her courage in identifying herself as a lesbian and singing about it. Char helps Ash see her own strength in not letting her situation cause her to be bitter, but instead using it to reach out to help others. For the first time since her mother died, Ash feels like someone sees that she is special and is there for her.
With a modern version of Cinderella as the main character, Cinders tells the story of a teen girl who overcomes adversity and bullying with kindness and compassion.
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."