Posted by: teachergirl | February 3, 2010

Saving Juliet

Saving Juliet
Suzanne Selfors
New York: Walker & Co, 2009
Genre: Young adult, romance, light (very light) fantasy
Interest level: age 10+ (do elementary-age girls like to read romance?)
AR level: 4.5

I saw this at the library and picked it up because I had such fun reading The Juliet Club.  Another Shakespeare-inspired YA novel should be a great read.  Or not, as I discovered.  Saving Juliet is mediocre at best.  The idea behind the story is much more interesting than its execution.

Mimi is the reluctant heir to the Wallingford Theater and is expected to follow her family onto the stage.  She may have talent for acting, but it is not her cup of tea.  She is forced to play Juliet opposite arrogant teen idol Troy Summer, cast as Romeo, and develops a case of performance anxiety.  When Mimi discovers that her mother has been taking money out of her trust fund and has canceled Mimi’s trip to Los Angeles to visit her beloved aunt and check out colleges  so that she can audition for a prestigious acting school instead.  Mimi is fed up and wishes herself anywhere but the Wallingford Theater, and ends up in the fictional Verona of Romeo and Juliet via some magic dust.  Now Mimi must save Juliet from imminent death by suicide and get herself back to reality.  And oh yes, Troy has made it to Verona, too.

I love the idea of being transported into a fictional world of a beloved (or not so beloved, in Mimi’s case) story and being able to interact with the characters.  Unfortunately the writing was so uninteresting that the story came out rather blah.  Saving Juliet is written in first person and I think that is part of the problem.  The writing is very “teenish;” it feels like Ms. Selfors was trying to capture her audience by using very simple language, as if Mimi were talking to you.  In fact, Mimi does talk to the reader in some places.  I found it contrived and distracting.

I did like that Selfors added some details about the Romeo and Juliet characters that people may not think about.  Her Juliet is a bratty 13 year old who eats onions and pretends to have a boil on her bottom to get out of an unwanted marriage.  Romeo is so lovesick over Rosaline that he is unable to do much of anything and comes across as a bit of a dip.

Saving Juliet was not a complete waste of reading time.  I did finish it in one sitting and I did get the romance fix I wanted when I picked it up.  If you have a couple hours, you don’t want to have to think, and you don’t want to start one of the more involved books on your list, then give it a read.  But if you’re deciding between The Juliet Club and Saving Juliet, definitely choose the former.

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