Romiette and Julio by Sharon M. Draper Book Review

Star Crossed Lovers 

When Romiette Cappelle meets Julio Montague, she feels as though she has met the soul mate who can rescue her from her recurring nightmare about fire and water. But like the Shakespearean characters whose names echo theirs, Romiette and Julio discover that not everyone approves of their budding romance. In their case, it is because Romiette is African-American and Julio is Hispanic, and the Devildogs, a dangerous local gang, violently oppose their interracial relationship. 

When the Devildogs threaten to teach them a lesson, Romiette and Julio come up with a risky plan to escape from the gang's fearsome shadow. But things go terribly awry, and the two find themselves caught up in a deadly reality more frightening that Romiette's nightmare — and in a desperate struggle to avoid the tragic fate of Shakespeare's famous young lovers. 

 Romiette, an African-American girl, and Julio, a Hispanic boy, discover that they attend the same high school after falling in love on the Internet, but are harrassed by a gang whose members object to their interracial dating. 
-Barnes & Noble

When I spotted Romiette and Julio, I thought it would be very intriguing to read an interpretation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. This novel has transformed Juliet into an  ambitious, African-American young woman from Cincinnati,  and Romeo into a Hispanic young man who's recently moved to Cincinnati from Texas.

This novel has a very innocent feel in terms of how Draper allows her characters to encounter one another, which I liked. It was nice to see two teenagers encounter one another with intentions to simply get to know each other.  Romie and Julio are each intriguing in their own ways, as well as the supporting characters. I loved Romie's thoughts on life and those around her, also her descriptive dreams. Julio knowing how to play the mandolin was gold for me! One of my favorite supporting characters is Ben who dyes his hair a new color every week, and has an awesome sense of humor. I also loved the feel of it being a forbidden love, which is captured well. It's pretty special to read of an interracial relationship, as it seems this scenario is not often portrayed.

The novel, however, takes a more serious turn when Romie and Julio are harassed by neighborhood gangs populating the school with a disdain for their interracial relationship. Draper handles this topic honestly, with a borderline rawness. There were places in the novel  where I was shocked at the length some of the characters went to judge and cause racism to flourish within their school.

The thing that I didn't love about this novel was its pacing. I thought the plot went entirely too quickly, but it can also be said that Romeo and Juliet's relationship is also developed as quickly. I still wished that Romie and Julio had the opportunity to get to know each other a bit longer. I also thought that the writing/dialogue became a bit cliched at times. There were moments where I wondered if the dialogue sounded realistic.

Bare in mind: This novel contains slight violence and scenes depicting racism.

Everything said, I thought that Romiette and Julio was a pretty good portrayal of Romeo and Juliet, with a strong sub-story that is heartbreaking and needed. There are moments that will have you crying, and moments where your heart will flutter if you're the type to take a bit of cheese.

I give Romiette and Julio by Sharon M. Draper 3 and 1/2 cups of Earl Grey.

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