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Literature / The Poison Apples

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The Poison Apples is a Young Adult novel written by Lily Archer.

This uses the idea of fairy tale stepmothers and applies it to three teenage girls in modern times. One is named Alice whose stepmother marries her widowed father, another is an Indian girl named Reena whose father marries her young yoga instructor and divorces his first wife, and the last is named Molly whose father divorces her mentally unstable mother and marries a waitress working at his diner. All three girls are sent to a boarding school and share their stepmother issues with each other. They concoct a plan to get revenge and destroy something precious to their stepmothers.


This novel provides examples of:

  • Adult Fear:
    • The grisly reality of parents remarrying, either leaving their partners for various reasons, finding a new love or suffering a Hollywood Midlife Crisis.
    • Molly during the holidays runs away after learning that her mother escaped the mental institution, and doesn't know what to do. It's the only time Candy has a Pet the Dog moment when she drives out into the snow to find Molly.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Invoked Trope. Chock load of them:
    • All of the stepmothers. Are all of them really evil or are they misunderstood by their stepdaughters?
  • Big Brother Instinct: Molly displays some big sister instinct for Spencer, especially when Candy allows her to walk around in high heels.
  • Black Sheep: Molly would be considered this since her little sister thought she was spoiled when she really doesn't, she was unintentionally insensitive to her stepmother's emotions, and she was the only one who didn't accept Candy.
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  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Alice, Reena and possibly Molly, and Kristen.
  • Comforting the Widow: Alice believes that R did this for her father.
  • Cool Big Bro: Pradeep for Reena.
  • Epic Fail: Reena when she tries to steal Shanti's penguin. Lampshaded at the end of the book.
  • Evil Redhead: Subverted with Kristen. She starts off as Molly's rival for Pradeep's affections, but they bond in the end when she reveals her parents are getting a divorce.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Molly's little sister is named Spencer, but she participates in girlish sports like baton twirling and wears girly accessories.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Shanti Shruti is this. She tries to be a good stepmother to her husband's children, but they resent her for her marrying their middle-aged father.
    • Subverted with Candy. She has bleached blonde hair and she's nasty to Molly.
  • Hollywood Midlife Crisis: What Reena's father suffers; it's implied this is why he divorces his wife.
  • Love Triangle: Molly and Kristen both like Pradeep and don't like each other because of it.
  • May–December Romance:
    • Reena's father is in his fifties while Shanti Shruti is somewhere in her twenties, which, according to Reena, is about ten years away from her age.
    • Reena herself develops feelings for one of her teachers. One night, she puts on a seductive outfit and tries to seduce him, but is rejected instead.
  • Not So Different: Alice prepares to sabotage R's stage performance, only to find R crying in her dressing room after finding out her mother has died. She can't bring herself to do the deed, having lost her mother as well and knowing what it's like to endure that pain.
  • Only Sane Man: The three main characters. They think they see through their stepmothers and know who they really are.
  • Off to Boarding School: Partially subverted. The girls were sent there either to get away from their families or because their stepmothers went there when they were younger.
  • Pet the Dog: Candy drives out into the snow on learning that Molly has run away, hearing that her mother has escaped the mental institution and comforts Molly.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Shanti isn't even Indian; she's a white yoga instructor who nevertheless adopts an Indian name and culture.
  • Status Quo Is God: The girls are stuck with their stepmothers. With that said, they agree to stay friends and keep meeting.
  • Wicked Stepmother: The idea behind this whole novel. R, Alice's stepmother, resented her when Alice reacted negatively towards her father announcing their engagement. Shanti Shruti, Reena's blonde Caucasian stepmother with a fascination on Indian culture, seems nice and treats her stepchildren like they were her own. Candy Lamb, Molly's stepmother, is truly wicked. She mocked Molly's mother who is a mental institution and was trying to get Molly to come back home because of her pregnancy.
  • Worst. Whatever. Ever!: The girls at the end call Reena the worst penguin-napper ever.


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