Author: Jackie French
Publisher: Harper Collins
Star Rating: 4.5/5
Date Read: June 14th to 15th, 2014
Read Count: 1
Thank you to the publisher Harper Collins for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.
I have loved Jackie French’s writing since primary school, and Shakespeare since my first time reading Romeo & Juliet in high school. I was that one kid that really got Shakespeare. I thought he was funny and witty, I could see it all as I read it. I went on from Romeo and Juliet to read a lot of Shakespeare plays (my favourite being Much Ado About Nothing), but its funny that the one play that got me into Shakespeare I had some issues with. Romeo was arrogant and rash, Juliet melodramatic. I saw it as a waste of young life. Jackie French’s I am Juliet made me rethink the story I thought I knew.
I am Juliet is the same old story, but retold from Juliet’s point of view. We see her in a different light – a girl ignored by her parents until it is time to marry, sheltered and protected from the world, who wants to choose her own life. She’s not melodramatic – she is smart although she is vulnerable and she is desperate to break free of the life she feels has been chosen for her. She wants to feel love, true love, a connection that goes beyond words. In walks Romeo. And from that moment, Juliet is calling the shots.
I really enjoyed this retelling – it completely changed my view. I like that the primary focus was on Juliet – the dramas of Romeo, Mercutio and Tybalt were only talked about but we saw their effect on Juliet and those around her. Juliet is strong and brave, a girl on the cusp of womanhood about to take her life into her own hands. I had never seen or imagined her this way before and over the course of the book I developed a new respect for her and her relationship with Romeo. It is a tragedy, without a doubt, but I feel I have a better understanding of how and why things happen. Of course, we don’t know if that’s what Shakespeare intended Juliet to feel, but Romeo & Juliet is a play. It is up for interpretation and has been for the last four hundred years. Juliet is no wimpy girl who can’t live without the man she loves. She is a woman who makes a choice when she can see no better option for her life
Everyone knows the story of Romeo & Juliet, and from the beginning you know there will be no happy ending. It definitely impacts that impending sense of dread you feel as it gets closer to the end. But don’t let the knowledge of an unhappy ending deter you from this book. Whether you have read the play or not, loved it or hated it, this book will give you another way to look at the classic tragedy of ‘Juliet and her Romeo’. Also, the notes at the end help to put things in context if you are not familiar with the customs of Elizabethan times and the history of Shakespeare.
4.5 stars. I loved it.