5 out of 5 stars
This is an incredibly great middle grade fiction book about a young girl with her first stirrings of a crush on a girl and all the confusion that comes with that and trying to figure things out.
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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! In this sweet and funny look at the complicated nature of middle school romance, Mattie learns how to be the lead player in her own life.
I thought this was an absolutely wonderful book and a delightful read! I read about this book on Facebook when the author posted something about being asked to tone down her presentation in a school in a conservative town. Immediately, I sought the book out on Amazon and bought the Kindle version.
Our main character, Mattie, is a very complex character. She’s not liked by the “popular” crowd, but she doesn’t seem to mind too much. Instead, she has her friends Tessa and Lucy to hang out with and she’s okay with that. Until she meets Gemma at a costume party the “popular” crowd was having that she wasn’t actually invited to. All of a sudden there’s a change in her. She doesn’t even really see it at first; Lucy points it out to her. Even then, she’s still not sure and struggles with whether or not it’s true. I liked that the author showed us Mattie’s struggles.
The supporting characters are well-rounded and developed enough that they do not come off as flat, two-dimensional characters. The settings in this book had great descriptions without going overboard. The plot line moves along at a steady pace. At no point did I think that it was moving too slowly or too fast.
This is an incredible book for tweens and early teens who may be struggling with their sexuality and what all those feelings are inside. Yet, it’s not at all preachy or condescending. The author does a really great job keeping a balance between examining what Mattie’s feeling without the sole focus being on just her sexuality. There’s a good balance between other things in life too, her schoolwork, her play rehearsals, etc.
I highly, highly recommend this middle grade fiction for all ages really. It was incredibly well-written and a wonderful, delightful read.