Nobody’s Princess by Ester Friesner
The Skinny: She is beautiful, she is a princess, and Aphrodite is her favorite goddess, but something in Helen of Sparta just itches for more out of life. Not one to count on the gods—or her looks—to take care of her, Helen sets out to get what she wants with steely determination and a sassy attitude. That same attitude makes Helen a few enemies—such as the self-proclaimed “son of Zeus” Theseus—but it also intrigues, charms, and amuses those who become her friends, from the famed huntress Atalanta to the young priestess who is the Oracle of Delphi. – From Goodreads
BFF?: As this book was about little girl Helen through young teen Helen… it was kind of hard to want to be BFFs with her. That being said, I LOVED this take on her! Even from very young Helen was a spitfire. She didn’t want to be a docile woman, content with sewing and spinning and yaaaaawn. Instead she takes the bull by the horn (uh, literally in one chapter) and goes after what she wants – to learn how to be a strong woman. Her interactions with different Greek figures was pretty intense and I loved how she learned lessons from them. Seeing her grow from a child into a young woman was kind of interesting and I’d love to see where the next book in the series takes her.
Readability: I’ll be honest… this one read a little TOO easy for me. Like it might have been really interesting for a middle school or young high school aged person. Which… yeah, that’s the point. But I did like how it kept me interested, despite the younger voice.
Crush Level: 2
There wasn’t a love interest really in the book – Helen was only 14 at the end – but she did meet many nice guys along the way! I can’t remember any of their names though, but again… they were very nice! And let’s just mention her brothers… I imagine my heart might have gone pitter pat had I actually met them!
Commencement Speech: This was a great addition to my Classics Retold project because it shows the growth of one of the most influential, yet highly disliked, characters in The Iliad. Helen of Troy wasn’t always a lofty girl who skipped town on a whim with a visiting hunk, thus starting one of the most famous wars in history. There’s certainly more to her character and I loved that this book played on that. This Helen certainly isn’t just a princess, frail and weak. She’s strong – she’s proud, vain, obstinate, headstrong (do those mean the same thing?), intuitive, considerate, resourceful… she’s all the things that make up what a queen should be. I loved seeing this side of her.
What I also loved about this book is that it shows the full spectrum of Greek life. We get to travel with Helen and her family, seeking out different adventures and getting to be part of different Greek myths. It was interesting to see these famous characters come not only to life on the page, but through the eyes of a girl learning as we do. Overall, great book. Give this to your MG or younger YA teen who is interested in mythology. Or, just give it to your MG or younger YA teen period!
Superlatives – Most likely to make you rethink Helen…
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