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Review: Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson

Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson

Sexing the Cherry tells the story of Jordan’s coming of age filled with deviations, rewritten fairytales, and fruit. It plays with our notions of happy endings, time, and heroes. The book itself is quite short, beautifully written, engaging to read, and also leaves you with a sense of wonder after you turn the last page.

There are familiar moments such as a parent’s sadness when a child leaves home, the moment after happy endings, unattainable love, and feeling that the world is too small (or you’re too large). The characters are complex, multifaceted, and never quite what they seem or what you expect.  For such a short(er) story, I would encourage anyone to read this on a playful afternoon where the goal is not to leave being able to recite the plot events, but to walk away with a sense of wonder and mystery, a smile on your face, and feeling like the world looks just a smidge different than before. It is not so much a question of what is truth and what is reality, but an examination of the line between, like a ship tipping on the cliff between believing the world is flat, to acknowledging its depth.

My favorite portion of the novel was the retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale as I had read it as a child and loved the story. I had completely forgotten that the tale ends with the marriage of the princesses, and in a vein similar to Angela Carter, Winterson rewrites these princesses’ happy endings, giving each of them the chance to find out that happy ever isn’t all it’s cracked out to be.

Much more could be said and the book holds even more insightful things (a whole section about time) and curiosities to ponder (the significance of the cut fruit symbols, for instance). This book is for lovers of fairytales, astute readers, and those who love some good sentences. The goal is not comprehension, but the exploration of mystery and the challenges within the story. Stick with it, because it will take you a journey and along the way you’ll see things from new perspectives and new heights.

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