A blog about books, for all lovers of YA and Children's books. This is the place to be for reviews of Tween and YA books! And, best of all, it is written by a 13-year-old who knows the perspective of tweens and teens!
Think You Know Romeo and Juliet?James Hartley, author of Cold Fire, which is based on Romeo and Juliet, says we might not know the play as well as we think.
Valentine´s Day is upon us and, like it or not, everyone´s going to be talking about love. Someone, somewhere – everywhere! - will mention cupid and someone, somewhere will mention Romeo and Juliet. Everyone seems to think they know the play, but do they? I write a series of books about teenagers at a magical school who get mixed up in the plots of Shakespeare´s plays and the last book in the series, Cold Fire, was based on Romeo and Juliet. During my research for the book, I found out some really interesting facts about the play. Not for the first time, what everyone thinks they know about the play is not exactly the truth. First things first, a few facts. Romeo and Juliet was written between 1591 and 1595. It was published in 1597 and was a hit during Shakespeare´s time and has been popular ever since. Like most of Shakespeare´s plays, it´s based on older stories and poems. The story is about two teenagers in Verona, Italy, who fall in love but are not able to be together because their families are great enemies. They run away together and get married anyway but the tragedy really begins when Romeo is exiled from Verona for killing Juliet´s cousin (who isn´t happy with the relationship, obviously). Juliet´s family want her to marry another man so she gets a holy man to give her a potion that will make her appear dead so she doesn´t have to marry the man – but she won´t be dead and Romeo can come and wake her up and rescue her and they can live happily ever after. She takes the potion and is laid in the family crypt. But Romeo doesn´t get the message that her death is fake and when he gets back to Verona and sees her, he thinks she´s dead and kills himself. When Juliet wakes up, she sees Romeo is dead and kills herself, so they ultimately commit suicide after believing each other to be dead. Lovely! So what about a few interesting facts? Firstly, I guess you imagine Juliet as a girl when you think of the play. Well, yes, she is. But in Shakespeare´s time women were not allowed to act on stage, so the part would have been taken by a young man. That must have taken some strong acting for the play to be convincing! Then there´s the famous line, “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?” which everyone seems to think means, “Romeo, Romeo, where are you?” In fact, it doesn´t. It means, “Romeo, Romeo, why are you called Romeo?” Which makes it all really clear, doesn´t it? It probably means, ‘Oh, why did you have to be called Romeo Montague’, which makes him a big enemy of Juliet´s family, the Capulets, but scholars are arguing about it. Another big scene in the play is the balcony scene. There´s even a balcony in Verona where people go and hold hands and coo and take photos to this day. But all the evidence points to the fact that there was never a balcony scene in the play at all. In the play, Juliet appears “at a window”, and
English theatres in Shakespeare´s day didn’t have balconies. The whole balcony scene thing comes from a much later staging of the play in which there was a balcony scene which everyone loved! Finally, there´s the whole timescale of the play. The action takes place over a week. All that – fall in love, get married, kill someone, run away, pretend to die, really die – takes place in a week. And Juliet is thirteen years old. And at the start of the play, Romeo is actually in love with someone else. Imagine trying to cram all that into a film or even a series these days – and make it believable and make it so good that four hundred years later people are still reading it, still watching it and can remember lines from it (even if they think the lines mean something else?)! But that, in the end, is why the play is so popular. Why we still talk about it. Why everyone, even if they don´t know the whole story, has heard of Romeo and Juliet. Because the story captures our imagination and because the words, as difficult as they are sometimes, sing to us as they describe the lovers´ incredible journey. It´s also why this Valentine´s Day you won´t be able to avoid hearing their names!
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This is my first post in almost a year and hasn't it gone fast. But I thought that I might try and get back to updating this blog, and see where it goes.
So here we go, the tween book blog's first blog post of 2019.
Unboxed by Non Pratt Five best friends hid a box when they were 13. Five years later, four of them return to open it, overshadowed by the death of the fifth.
I read this book for a book club at school, and to be honest I probably wouldn't have finished it if I didn't have to. Unboxed is short, promising secrets and lies to come spilling out, however, the book has decisively few of these. Whilst I'm not going to tell you what they were (no spoilers, duh), I think that most people that read the book will be somewhat underwhelmed.
I think that my other main issue with Unboxed was the fact that very little actually happened in the book. I'm the sort of person who needs at least a little bit of action to happen in a book, and I found my self getting somewhat bored. The main characters didn't really have to overcome any challenges, and the few that they did have to lasted for three pages at most. Having said that, the main character did have to overcome one main "challenge", coming out to her friends, which took the entire book. The issue was, it took so long for her to get to the point, in a book where little else happened, that I found I didn't care the outcome by the end.
Having said all that, Unboxed wasn't all bad. The idea of a dead friend bringing all of these ex-friends back together was one that worked quite well, I thought. However, despite what the blurb says, very little time was spent on Millie. She was almost used as a plot device to get all her friends together, and then vaguely forgotten about until right at the end when a letter of hers was read out. I think if more had been developed about her relationship with the rest of the group, the book might have been better.
I am going to give the book a 5/10 and an age rating of 13+