Tag Archives: Twist on a Classic

We Are The Perfect Girl (review by Ms. Pelman)

We Are the Perfect GirlWe Are the Perfect Girl by Ariel Kaplan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A charming, fresh, and sharply written retelling of Cyrano De Bergerac where friendship, not romance, is at the heart of the story. Aphra and Bethany are best friends. Bethany is painfully shy—she can’t string 4 words together when attempting to speak to her crush Greg. Aphra is smart, funny, and outgoing, but does not consider herself attractive mainly due to her nose (naturally). In the midst of trying to help Bethany get together with Greg, she inadvertently begins an anonymous relationship with him online, which she then parlays into assuming the Cyrano role, feeding Bethany lines during dates and composing text messages for her. As an overwhelmed Bethany tries to go along with the plan, Aphra falls harder and harder for Greg.
Even readers unfamiliar with the original story will understand both the folly of their plan and the inevitable blowup that will ensue. The trick is making us care. Kaplan accomplishes this feat and more in her deftly constructed novel. With its swift pacing, humor, and fully-realized characters, readers will be swept up. Far from simply zany, the substantive plot makes clear Aphra’s journey through anger and pain, and her awakening to the kinds of love that matter most. While its seeming conventionality may be a turn off for some, readers who don’t mind romantic entanglement mixed in with their strong, intelligent female protagonists will find much to enjoy. -Ms. Pelman

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Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust (review by Sofie K. ’20)

Girls Made of Snow and GlassGirls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“If they love you for anything, it will be for your beauty.”

One kingdom, completely immersed in ice, the cruel outcome of an age-old curse. Two stories intertwined, each pivotal to the other. In one: a girl from the outside comes to power beside a widowed king, her glass heart colder than the eternal winter around her. In the other: a girl born and raised within the castle’s walls, created out of snow in the image of the late queen. Her only maternal influence has been her outspoken yet stoic stepmother.

And only one can be queen.

But Lynet doesn’t want the crown. Far from it, actually. She simply wants to find her own path instead of turning into the queen her father wants her to be. Besides, why would she want to take the crown away from Mina, who so desperately wants to rule over the warm, curse-free South she was raised in? Mina has everything: looks, power, composure. She makes a much better queen than the little girl who spends her free time climbing trees and stalking the new surgeon.

But life is never that simple, is it?

Girls Made of Snow and Glass takes the classic tale of Snow White and spins it in a completely new direction. For one, there are no dwarves, and Bashardoust gives Snow White–usually portrayed as a helpless child–a sense of empowerment that princesses in old fairy tales just weren’t given. It’s a fast-paced, emotional journey of self-reflection and learning what it truly means to love. – Sophie K. ’20

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Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub (review by Prameela K. ’19)

Still Star-CrossedStill Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After reading Romeo and Juliet, I couldn’t help but wonder: “What happens now?”

Melinda Taub’s novel aims to answer that question, and many of the other ones that readers may ask after finishing Romeo and Juliet. Unsurprisingly, the Montagues and Capulets–who entered a dubious truce in the aftermath of their children’s deaths–are still feuding, unable to suppress the animosity rooted in their bloodline. Intending to quell the dissension that is plaguing his city, Prince Escalus of Verona devises a plan in which he arranges for a member of the house of Montague–Benvolio, Romeo’s cousin– to marry a member of the house of Capulet–Rosaline, Juliet’s cousin and Romeo’s first love (before he meets Juliet). Neither Benvolio nor Rosaline are thrilled about the prospect of an arranged marriage with one another, and they form an initially unenthusiastic alliance in order to put an end to their engagement.

Rosaline is independent and strong-willed, and she develops as a character. While Benvolio also undergoes a significant amount of moral growth, his personality is rather muted, but his chemistry with Rosaline makes up for his blandness. While their relationship is the main highlight of the novel,
another surprisingly appealing element is mystery. There are clues, red herrings, buildup, and an ultimate reveal that is well-executed though somewhat predictable. It’s no Agatha Christie mystery, but it’s interesting enough.

One of the most interesting aspects of the novel is the dialogue. All characters speak Shakespearean English, complete with “thees” and “thous”. The setting is undoubtedly Shakespearean, and the re-imagining of supporting characters from Romeo and Juliet makes Taub’s continuation of the tragedy vivid and creative. Yet one of the weakest points of the novel (and one of the main reasons why I rate this book three stars and not four) is the inclusion of a love triangle–one with a predictable outcome–that distracts from the mystery at the core of the plot and slows the story progression.

Overall, Still Star-Crossed is a good book with an enjoyable plot and a compelling protagonist, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Shondaland’s new show will provide its own take on the novel! – Prameela K. ’19

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When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle (review by Stephanie S. ’17)

When You Were MineWhen You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When You Were Mine, a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, opens with Rosaline Caplet and her two best friends hoping for the perfect senior year. Rose has had eyes for her neighbor and best friend, Rob Monteg, for years and hopes he’ll finally return her feelings. At the beginning of the summer, before Rob left for camp, Rosaline thought their relationship was evolving into something more. She is thrilled when school starts and their flirting continues. When Rob kisses her on their first date, Rose believes that everything is falling into place. Soon afterwards, however, Rosaline’s cousin Juliet moves to town. In less than two days Juliet has claimed Rob as hers, and he seems to have forgotten all about Rose. Rosaline’s friends tell her to ignore them, but she cannot. Soon rumors start circulating about Juliet’s mental instability, endangering Rob and his future. Will Rob make the right decision and leave Juliet, or will she take him down with her? This book may not be for everyone but I enjoyed this story and found it to be unique take on Shakespeare’s original, with a couple unexpected twists.

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1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (review by Elisabeth S. ’16)

1Q84 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Murakami may be one of the most talented storytellers alive today, and his genius manifests once again in this ethereal, lyrical magnum opus. The main stories are interwoven effortlessly; the novel details the life of aspiring novelist and math teacher Tengo, and Aomame, the secretive, justice-bent martial artist masquerading as a simple yoga instructor. Tengo assists a young girl named Fuka-Eri in the creation of his own literary masterpiece that will change both of their lives forever while also involving him in a bizarre religious cult that puts him in mortal danger. Aomame works for a dowager countess in eliminating perpetrators of domestic violence. The love story is touching and the entire novel surreal. Murakami’s prose is truly poignant and unforgettable. 1Q84 is a novel that will linger in the minds of readers for hours, days, weeks, months, and years. Highly recommended to bibliophiles who do not mind a tour de force that tops out at 1,184 pages. – Elisabeth S. ‘16

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Lady Macbeth’s Daughter by Lisa Klein (review by Allison W. ’16)

Lady Macbeth's DaughterLady Macbeth’s Daughter by Lisa M. Klein
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Lisa Klein’s Lady Macbeth’s Daughter revolves around Albia, the supposedly dead daughter of Macbeth and Grelach (Lady Macbeth). Growing up, she leaves Wychelm Wood, where she was raised, to live with another family. Eventually, she learns who her true parents are and works against them. A twist on Shakespeare’s play, Lady Macbeth’s Daughter has an interesting start, but by the end of the book, the plot is not very exciting. In addition, the ending is unsatisfying and leaves many important questions unresolved. Lady Macbeth’s Daughter has the potential to be an excellent book, but it will most likely appeal only to fans of Macbeth. – Allison W. ’16

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Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen (review by Anushka D. ’15)

Scarlet (Scarlet #1)Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As a member of Robin Hood’s gang, “Will” Scarlet holds many secrets. For one, she’s really a girl. Even the members of the band do not know her painful past. When a ghost from her history closes in, Scarlet must make a difficult decision: her gang or her life. Scarlet has the potential to be an interesting read due to its creative take on the classic Robin Hood tale. While Scarlet is rude, foul-mouthed, and amazingly strong, she is also emotional and insecure about her past, a flawed personality that easily enthralls readers. However, the immature romance and unsatisfying ending detract from the book’s narration. Her potential lovers are irrational and demanding, and Scarlet is irritatingly indecisive about who she loves. In addition, the conclusion of the adventure novel is a mere whimper. All in all, the lack of a consistently gripping story makes Scarlet a drag. – Anushka D. ‘15

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