Fairy Tales

How do you solve a problem like Maria?

Sisters of Glass by Stephanie Hemphill

The Skinny: Before his death, Maria’s father declared that she would marry a nobleman, ignoring tradition that dictates the first born daughter should marry first. Maria is the second born daughter and her older sister Giovanna is unhappy that Maria is in the spotlight. Maria has no desire to marry and leave her home in Murano. She wishes only to stay and be a part of her family’s glass-making business and carry on her father’s work. Will Maria be able to escape the shackles of a loveless marriage, regain her sister’s love, and score with the hot new apprentice?

BFF?: Maria is the protagonist of old – she has a problem, it seems inescapable, she rebels against it and then lives happily ever after. But below the surface, she’s so much more than that! She’s smart and savvy, she’s ambitious and wants to pursue her family’s business more than anything. She feels things deeply, especially her sister’s scorn, and has a temper to match even the worst ones out there. But she’s also compassionate and caring, aware of her actions and their repercussions. I would be happy to be BFFs with Maria because of all these things.

Readability: Sisters of Glass was my first experience with reading a book written in prose verse (thanks megtao for pointing out my misuse of the word “prose”) and lemme just say… I LOVED IT! It was so beautifully written and every time I read a part I thought how simple everything was – here are deep and complex emotions and they’re expressed in a single line. Most novels take at least 3 pages of explaining how deeply affected the character is by something.

My only concern about reading books in prose verse is that you have to know how to read prose poetry. I remember learning in high school how to read it and am SO thankful for it. This book wouldn’t have been any good had I not known how to read it, so my advice to you before tackling any book written in prose verse is to first learn how to read prose poetry.

Crush Level: 4
Luca, the apprentice, was really sweet. He had this special way of making Maria feel at home with him, he was dedicated to his craft, etc., etc., etc. But he has the appeal of a fairy tale prince; you don’t get the tingly swoons from him. You just smile and say “how romantic” and go about your day.

Bonus Points:
Sister Love?

As anyone with sisters can tell you being sisters is not all it’s cracked up to be. There’s pettiness, jealousy, tattling… it can get pretty messy. Maria and Giovanna are no exception. They’re both jealous of each other: Maria of Giovanna’s beauty and grace; Giovanna of Maria’s talent and suitors. But, like all sisters, they eventually make up and help one another.

Glass Blowing

When I was in 5th grade we took a trip, like all 5th grade classes, to Washington D.C. During the trip we stopped in Jamestown and visited a glass blower’s. If you’ve never seen glass blown, lemme tell you: it is the coolest thing EVER. There’s something really magic about it, how the blower can take sand and other minerals and turn it into glass. Watching them sculpt it is amazing as well, knowing the art and practice it takes to create something like that.

Happily Ever After

Most YA books I end up reading don’t have a happily ever after-ness to them. While they usually have happier endings, it’s never fairytale-like. This book is a major exception. Which I loved.

Commencement Speech: I have been wanting to read a book in prose verse for so long it’s not even funny. Imagine my surprise when I got this one and it was in prose verse! Although I would be hesitant to call this YA, it definitely could be loved by someone who reads this genre. Aside from the beautiful language of the book, the setting of it adds so much to its beauty. Venice, glassblowing, sailing – all are so gorgeously described that I feel like I fell in love with all of these things. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves happy endings, no matter what genres you typically enjoy.

Superlatives – A Poet Who Doesn’t Even Know It

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4 thoughts on “How do you solve a problem like Maria?”

    1. Actually I think you just pointed out MY lack of English training! You’re right… prose is just normal writing. Perhaps I should correct myself in my post… or retake 7th grade English when we probably learned this! I just like the way the word “prose” sounds… prose, prose… so literary! 🙂


  1. I got this from NetGalley and definitely want to give it a go soon. I’m not usually a verse girl, but that’s only because I always wind up wanting MOAR WORDS! I love the Italy aspect as well. I visited Italy when I was in HS and saw some Venetian glassblowers and it was AMAZING. I was always so afraid of getting burned/setting something on fire. But it was still very cool.
    Great review 🙂


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