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Tag Archives: Shakespeare

Juliet by Anne Fortier

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

– Becca

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The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

I’ve recently joined a book club here in Santa Barbara that I discovered through my roommate (who discovered it on the website GoodReads).  It’s been so nice to have book suggestions for my leisure reading coming from people other than high school students – though surprisingly, the high school students often have great recommendations too.  The first book I read for the club was The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown.  At book club, the verdict on this novel was mixed.  No one completely hated it, but we were split down the middle as far as who enjoyed it, and who thought it was just okay.  Personally, I’m on the “just okay” team.  I finished it, but there wasn’t anything particularly special about this book, in my opinion.

The Weird Sisters is about three adult sisters who come home to their parents house in a small college town to escape varying failures each has experienced.  The sisters aren’t particularly close, and are each very different, but now that all of them are under the same roof, they are joined in caring for their mother who is battling breast cancer and recovery from a mastectomy and their father, the typical “absent-minded” professor (he specializes in Shakespeare, which is where the book gets its title).  A few things I liked about the book: though the story wasn’t particularly well developed, the author uses a collective narrator as the voice of all 3 sisters (“We” instead of “I”) which was unique and interesting as a reader.  Additionally, I loved the snippets of Shakespeare sprinkled throughout the book – some of which I recognized and some of which I did not.  It encouraged me to read more of the bard, and that is never a bad thing.  However, aside from those positives, the characters are entirely one-dimensional and not particularly likeable.  They each seem like stereotypes of characters that you see frequently in chick-lit books, but are nowhere to be found (at least in this exaggerated form) in the real world.  Additionally, the epilogue at the end is far too neatly stitched up for my taste.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a happy ending!  But I love a happy ending that I can actually believe would have happened with the characters, and in this respect, Brown didn’t deliver.

Again, the book wasn’t awful.  But there are so many great books out there… I’d say, don’t waste your time on this one and find instead one you will really really love.  They’re out there!  As such, I give this book 2 stars.  And don’t be surprised if you see some higher ranking Shakespeare reviews on our blog in the near future! ★★

– Becca