Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Book Note: I am Juliet (and Others by Jackie French)

French, Jackie. I am Juliet. New York: Angus&Robertson, 2014.

Well, the cover says almost all:  "The girl who famously loved Romeo. / In this story she takes centre stage."

I read this some time ago, but I'm trying to clear off my desk.  Here, then, is a brief review.

First, I am not the target audience for this book. It seems to be directed toward female YA novel readers, and that's not quite my cup of tea.

For the most part, this is a pretty route novelization of the plot of Romeo and Juliet. But it does have one twist—its frame. The narrative starts with Rob, a thirteen-year-old boy actor preparing to play the role of Juliet in 1592. After a few pages of that, we get the story of Juliet as (imagined by? flashed back to? historically re-created by? mystically relayed to?) the actor. Then, at the end, we head back to Rob as he prepares to walk on stage to play the role for the first time.

I'll give you that first short chapter and the first page of the transition to the Juliet section for your edification.

Beyond the frame, there aren't any surprises. But perhaps this is just the sort of book a young, female audience needs to get over all those words, words, words that are part of Shakespeare.

If so, there are others by Jackie French to try: Third Witch (note: not The Third Witch, which I enjoyed, nor Enter Three Witches, which was also pretty good), Ophelia, Queen of Denmark, and The Diary of William Shakespeare. I'll probably give them a try—perhaps I can bring them to the attention of the students in my Young Adult class. For those who become junior high English teachers, they may prove to be a good resource.

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Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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