I was so excited to read Juliet when I saw that it was connected to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – I had just finished teaching it to my 9th graders, and I have to say, teaching vs. reading a work is such a different experience. I read Romeo and Juliet in high school and thought “eh, it’s ok, but it’s no love story!”. I read it again to teach it and thought, love story or not, I’m having a love affair with this writing! While hating nearly everything about 9th grade, I’m very tempted to request to teach it again JUST so I can teach Romeo and Juliet… it’s that fun. So, I grabbed this book. While utterly and completely cheesy, I could not put it down. It was so much fun! To put it simply, Juliet is a hybrid of the Nicholas Cage movie, National Treasure, and Shakespeare’s most famous work. I mean, seriously. What’s not to love?!
The twists and turns in this book are frequent and artfully connected to each other. As a reader, expect to predict one or two of them, but most, if not all, will completely surprise you! The main character, Julie, is working at a Shakespeare summer camp when her aunt’s long-time butler comes to tell her that unfortunately, her aunt has died. Raised from childhood with her twin sister by this aunt, Julie is taken by surprise. Even more surprising is when the lawyer arrives to read the will. Julie’s twin gets all the money, while Julie is left with a key to a safe deposit box in Italy, a very old cross necklace, and some documents of her mother’s. With no money, job, or relationship with her twin, Julie has only one choice. She books a flight to Italy, the place of her birth that she hardly remembers, but that her aunt will never speak of, and decides to get to the bottom of this family mystery. Get to the bottom of it she does, but not before a true treasure hunt, involving the mafia, the TRUE story of Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare allegedly got a few parts wrong), getting caught up with a cult, some mistaken identities, and long-lost family members – some of whom will return from the grave! While it may not be sophisticated literature, it is nothing but fun. I give it 4.5 stars and highly recommend it! ★★★★1/2