Star-Crossed - Barbara Dee

Mattie, a star student and passionate reader, is delighted when her English teacher announces the eighth grade will be staging Romeo and Juliet. And she is even more excited when, after a series of events, she finds herself playing Romeo, opposite Gemma Braithwaite’s Juliet. Gemma, the new girl at school, is brilliant, pretty, outgoing—and, if all that wasn’t enough: British.

As the cast prepares for opening night, Mattie finds herself growing increasingly attracted to Gemma and confused, since, just days before, she had found herself crushing on a boy named Elijah. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys AND girls? If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things backstage at the production are starting to rival any Shakespearean drama!

This book is super charming, full of humour and wit, and an absolutely adorable middle-school romance. Mattie is having a tough time in school; she's been ostracized by a group of girls (Willow, Isabel, and Charlottle) and hasn't been invited to a halloween party. When she crashes the party, though, she ends up connecting with beautiful, British Gemma. Mattie is worried that she's messed everything up at the party, but Gemma befriends Mattie at school and the two become close, quite quickly. When events prevent her classmate, Liam, from performing as Romeo in the grade eight play, Mattie finds herself playing the part and having to kiss Gemma, who is playing Juliet. She becomes all nerves, can't quite figure out what to do, and has no idea if Gemma likes her in the same way.

Dee's writing is quick and funny, and the incorporation of so much Shakespeare will, I hope, encourage young readers to get interested in plays and poetry and such. Though some have noted they think there's a bit too much Shakespeare, as an English major in my undergrad, I can't help but disagree! The parallels with Romeo & Juliet are fascinating (there's even a shopping mall in Mantua, and a fro-yo shop called Verona's!) I feel like this is a really timely novel, and a fantastic addition to the queer middle-grade body of literature. One of the things I love most is that there is so little actual discussion of sexuality in terms of labels, but rather there is a more nuanced discussion of attraction to an individual and how that is affecting Mattie's relationships all around.

Highly Recommended


Popular posts from this blog

Black Chuck - Regan McDonell

Althea & Oliver - Cristina Moracho

A List of Cages - Robin Roe