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"A smaller percentage of 17 year olds saw adults reading in their homes in 1999 than in 1984." More

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Author: Suzanne Harper

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Publisher: Greenwillow Books, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers,

Material: hard cover

Summary: What could be more romantic than spending six weeks in Verona, the setting of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet? Kate Sunderson, a high-school student who was still convincing her friends she was done with love, was just happy to get away. She knew she would be too busy studying Shakespeare to think about romance. It wasn't useful, anyway. On her first evening in Verona, Kate met the other members of her seminar: Lucy and Tom, two American students; and Benno, Giacomo, and Sylvia, three Italians. The seminar had barely started when Kate overheard Sylvia and Benno plotting to get Giacomo and Kate to "fall in love." Together, Kate and Giacomo plotted to turn the tables on the pranksters, taking every opportunity to "show off" for their audience, and learning something about themselves. As the end of the seminar approaches, tragedy strikes ... or at least Kate and Giacomo think so. Will they suffer a Shakespearean fate? This is a fictional YA novel that weaves William Shakespeare's style of drama and comedy into its plot.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, independent reading, read aloud book, remedial reader

Recommended Age: read together: 10 and up; read yourself: 12 and up

Interest Level: 12 and up

Reading Level: 5.7

Age of Child: Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™

Young Reader Reaction: Teen 1: The Juliet Club was by far one of the best books I’ve read this summer. It gets the reader so enveloped in the plot that they almost feel they are in Italy, just like the main character, Kate. I loved almost everything about this novel, and I honestly don’t think I would change a single thing. I would recommend this book for readers, ages 12-16. The Juliet Club would make a great gift for teenagers, and is a book that most kids could relate to and enjoy. It is a great escape from everyday life and a pleasure to read...the perfect novel for a log summer day. With every page you feel more and more like you’re staying in a beautiful villa in Italy.

Young Adult: This is a great book for young adults ages 13 to 23. [I am 23 and very much enjoyed reading it.] It is lighthearted and offers perspectives for 3 female characters: one studious and invisible to most males; a rebel who strikes fear into any of her suitors; and a polite southern girl who makes any boy fall to her feet. Because it is written in third person, readers can peer into the minds of all characters, including males, which adds the perspective of how they struggled with their own interpretations of love. Being able to hear about how Giacomo, Benno and Tom were dealing with their emotions helped bring well rounded look at the adolescent mind. This is a great read for a rainy day, and would make a nice gift for a middle school or high school reader who likes lighthearted stories with travel and romance.

Adult Reader Reaction: I really enjoyed this book, and found myself carrying it around so I could keep reading. The author obviously knows a lot about Shakespeare, and has created a modern plot that illustrates some of his themes, plot devices, and humor. Nona, Saint Rosaline, and the conversations with some of the characters (like Sylvia, Annie, and Sarah) just made me giggle out loud!

Pros: Teens will enjoy this lighthearted story that (unwittingly) will expand their knowledge of Shakespeare and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, in particular.

Cons: None, really. There are hints about a change in the relationship between Professoressa Marchese and Tim Sanderson (Kate's father), but it is almost too subtle. Where did Winnie come from? She was mentioned in the beginning, but doesn't pop up until you've completely forgotten about her at the end.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least! Although fictional, this offers a fresh approach to presenting Shakespeare to a modern audience. Boys will empathize with Tom and Giacomo, which will also keep them reading something they "assume" is Chicklit.


Educational Themes: Despite having modern characters in a 21st century setting, the novel lends itself to exploring Shakespeare. In fact, Romeo and Juliet might go down easier (or be understood better) if students/pre-teens/teens read the original first (and study a few sonnets) and then read this shortly thereafter.

Notes: The Reading Tub, Inc. read an advance reader copy of this book.

Literary Categories: Fiction - young adult, coming of age, literature

Date(s) Reviewed: May 2008, August 2008, July 2017

Other Reviews: No Critics' Reviews or reader feedback found at the time of this review.


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