Princess Academy by Shannon Hale is a nice tale of family love and finding one's self.
Miri feels like the most useless person in all the village of Mount Eskel. She's small and her father doesn't allow her to work in the mine that the rest of the village does. Instead Miri tends goats for the family. Their entire village is shocked to find out that the kingdom priests have declared that Mount Eskel is the home of the Prince's future bride. In order to prepare all potential brides, an academy is set up and twenty of the village girls attend it.
Miri faces strong competition for academy princess or the number one place at school. She is not very excited to become a princess but the prospect of leaving Mount Eskel and seeing the world is very desirable. Miri chooses to follow her heart in all circumstances which sometimes works in her favor but sometimes doesn't.
I definitely think I would have loved Princess Academy at a younger age. However, now that I'm a little older and can see gender stereotyping easier, I get a little irritated about stupid things. Hale does make a point of including girls of varying sizes and with talents across the board. However, there are no LGBTQ characters (in the whole kingdom? Seems fishy...) and it's a little interesting that the girls need to be refined in the first place. Over all, it was still a decent read.
Middle Grade March Count: 9