Block, Francesca Lia. "Charm." The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold. New York: Harper Collins, 2000.

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This Sleeping Beauty Tale uses a syringe instead of a spindle, and heroin instead of a fairy’s curse. Rev, asleep only in the way that she thinks her soul is dead, has lived a life of abuse, drugs, and forced pornography and sex. It isn’t until she visits the home of the actress Miss Charm, who witnesses her being raped, that anyone steps in and tries to help her. There is something very familiar about this woman, but Rev has erased many of her memories because they are too painful. Miss Charm lets Rev stay and get better, helping her through her difficult detox and caring for her in a way that no one has ever cared for her before. Days later, Rev discovers Miss Charm crying as she looks at a pornographic picture of two little girls. It turns out that the two little girls in the picture were the young Rev and Miss Charm; this is why she had been so familiar. The story ends, “When Charm kissed her, Rev felt as if all the fierce blossoms were shuddering open. The castle was opening. She felt as if the other woman were breathing into her body something long lost and almost forgotten. It was, she knew, the only drug either of them would need now” (97).

I know this is a modernization of a fairy tale, and fairy tales are make believe, but something about the at-home detox rubbed me the wrong way. Heroin addicts need to be hospitalized and detoxed by professionals, and major therapy and rehabilitation are necessary; drug addiction isn’t simply cured by kindness and love. In general I have a problem with what seems like a glamorization of drug abuse, and I can see that in this story. I appreciate this story because I do find it a very creative way to adapt the Sleeping Beauty tale, but I guess I worry about the message it might send about drugs, as it is a book marketed to young adults.

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