Title: Girls Made of Snow and Glass
Author: Melissa Bashardoust
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Released: September 5, 2017
Synopsis*: At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone has never beat at all, in fact, but shed always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the kings heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that shell have to become a stepmother.
Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do and who to be to win back the only mother she’s ever known or else defeat her once and for all.
Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.
Girls of Snow and Glass is the feminist Disney retelling we didn’t know we needed.
Cold as snow, sharp as glass
Girls made of Snow and Glass is a feminist retelling of Snow White. It follows Lynet and her stepmother Mina in their battle of who will be queen.
Lynet wants nothing more than to be rid of the comparisons to her dead mother. She doesn’t want to be delicate, she wants to be strong, find adventure, she’d rather climb trees than learn how to stitch them. She is wild and unpredictable, she is anything but delicate.
Her stepmother Mina wishes she was delicate, instead of feeling so broken all the time. She thinks herself unlovable and incapable of giving love herself, she uses her beauty to get what she desires, to become queen. She keeps her stepdaughter at arm’s length at the request of the king, but it’s clear that she’s the only one with any understanding of the princess, perhaps the only person who loves Lynet for who she is.
“There are worse things in the world to be than delicate. If you’re delicate, it means no one has tried to break you.”
When the king of Whitespring dies, secrets are revealed and Mina and Lynet’s worlds quickly break apart. They could find strength in each other and tackle the unknown future together but the men in their lives have done nothing but set the stage for a battle that pins the two women against each other.
It would be easy to assume that, out of our two main characters, this book focuses on Lyent more than anything, since she is our Snow White after all, but that would be a mistake. Sure we get Lynet’s POV equally as much as Mina’s, but the star is the ‘evil’ stepmother.
Perhaps she was so broken that she had become unbreakable.
Mina is so incredibly strong and yet she can’t see it. She has been told over and that she is incapable of love, so she believes it. She instead uses her beauty to win herself the best version of happily ever after she thinks she can get, to rule her home from the throne.
Mina has an incredible character arc, we watch as she has both incredible confidence while also hating herself immensely. It’s both endearing and so god damn relatable it hurts. We watch her switch between a formidable queen to a vulnerable young woman throughout the entire story, toeing the two versions of herself until it’s clear she doesn’t know which version she truly is.
At least if I’m dead, I won’t turn into her.
Lynet, the 15-year-old princess, feels less real to me for some reason. I related to her want to break the box those around her want to put her in, her rebellious nature and her need to seek excitement and adventure. My heart broke for her every time people took away her autonomy (and yes, that what they were doing) by comparing her to her dead mother. ‘No Lynet, you can’t do that you’re too fragile.’ ‘No, Lynet, don’t do that, you’re too delicate.’ The biggest perpetrator by far was her father and dear god every time that man spoke I wanted to punch him.
However, compared to Mina, Lynet fell a little flat. I can’t really put my finger on it, maybe it’s just that I find it hard to relate to younger characters, or perhaps it didn’t feel like Lynet got much development, maybe it was both of these things.
“If they love you for anything, it will be for your beauty.”
Now I have to admit, I didn’t really know what I was signing up for when I picked this up, but there’s no surprise there. I like to go into books mostly blind because then it’s harder for me to be disappointed. I usually know of a key theme and what representation a book has but that’s it. For this book, I had totally forgotten the key hook; that it was a Snow White retelling. I’m pretty sure I knew that when I added it to my TBR but, in between then and seeing it at the library, I had totally forgotten it. It wasn’t until nearly halfway through the book that it clicked.
I love Disney films. Snow White has never really piqued my interest though, so I’m not very well acquainted with the story but god damn, did I love this version. I 100% prefer it to the source material and in my opinion, this is the only Snow White story I care about.
But I didn’t need to go south—I had already found what I wanted.”
Lynet was keenly aware of her thudding heartbeat. “Where did you find it?” she asked.
“She fell out of a tree one morning.”
In the love department, I picked up this book because I knew it was a fantasy with a F/F relationship. That was basically the only information about this book that sunk in, and as someone who has been craving LGBTQIAP+ content as of late, when I saw this book was available at the library, that promise of a F/F relationship was really the whole reason I picked it up at all. I wish I could say I wasn’t disappointed, but I am, just a little.
I loved Lynet and Nadia together, I just wish I got more, I wish they had more time to develop, instead, it felt like their time was limited. I appreciated that the romantic relationships weren’t the prime focus of the book, that really was important, but I wish we had gotten just a little more of Lynet and Nadia as opposed to Mina and her hetero love interest.
I actually wish we had gotten more of Nadia in general, she’s a surgeon for crying out loud, an almost male-only profession and I found her really interesting! I was a bit sad when I didn’t get more of her.
Is there a cure for me, do you think?
I’m not sure that you need one.
My favourite part of this story was the relationship between Mina and Lynet. It pulled at my heartstrings and proved just how important and strong chosen families can be. We’re often taught that blood relatives are above all other things. The whole ‘blood is thicker than water’ saying gets thrown around constantly, but as someone who has a strained relationship with many a family member, I just don’t hold the same importance to blood family that a lot of people do. I didn’t choose them, and more often than not they cause me far more pain than is healthy and I learned from an early age that cutting out family members didn’t make me a bad person, it made me wise. It taught me that it doesn’t matter how closely related you are to someone, they can still be detrimental to your health. Girls Made of Snow and Glass nail that same lesson.
Mina and Lynet’s relationship is set up to fail from day one, thanks to the men in their lives doing everything they can to set them against each other, whether intentional or not. But their relationship isn’t just a beacon for chosen families, it’s also one for relationships between women.
Society pits us against each other every chance it gets. Even when it comes to sexual assault we’re essentially told to make sure they attack the other girl. We’re taught to slut-shame each other, to yearn for the title of ‘Not Like Other Girls’, we’re told time and time again that we have to compete against each other for men, careers, even motherhood is turned into a battle between women.
That’s what makes this book so important to young readers, it shows that just because we’re told we should compete with each other, it doesn’t mean we need to. That we can embrace and care and support one another. We are strong on our own but we can be even stronger together than apart. This is the main message of this book, and it is so incredibly important to teach our girls that.
Although I have a few things I wish had been a little bit more, Bashardoust does women a great service with this novel. It shows the strength of women and girls both individually and as a unit and that is one of the best gifts we can give our girls, in this generation, and the ones to come.
Weak or strong – she didn’t know what they meant anymore. Maybe they didn’t mean the same thing for everyone.
*Taken from Goodreads.
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I read this book as part of my 2018 Library Love binge, where I read as many library books as possible to take advantage of my great local library network!
To follow my binge reading adventure just visit my 2018 Library Love shelf.
Or I’ll also be updating my 2018 Library Love Blog Post as I go!