Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee book thoughts
Author: Barbara Dee
Published Date: March 14th, 2017
Source: I bought it
# of Pages: 277
Genre: Middle Grade/Contemporary/Queer
Days to Read: 3
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Would I recommend it?: Maybe
Would I read more books by this Author?: Maybe
My Social Media: Goodreads/Instagram/Twitter
Mattie is chosen to play Romeo opposite her crush in the eighth grade production of Shakespeare’s most beloved play in this Romeo and Juliet inspired novel from the author of Truth or Dare.
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.
This is a cute light read about a middle school girl, 8th grade, getting a crush on a girl. She has had a crush on a boy before. It's made clear she still could like another boy, but right now her crush just happens to be a girl and she's trying to come to terms with that. For the most part it's a good book. It's sort of a retelling of Romeo and Juliet but there is no tragedy. No one dies. It's a middle grade book to show that being inclusive of all sexualities is a good and necessary thing, in a light fun read.
Let's get what I didn't like so much out of the way first. I am bisexual, I heard it's a book about a bisexual girl figuring out she is bisexual in 8th grade...exactly the time I did. Yes I knew I am bisexual in middle school and i'm 28 now...i'm still bisexual. I thought this could've been a book I could've really needed/used back when I was that age. I really wanted to love this book and I really tried.
Bisexual or even just Bi is never used, not once, to the point that it's awkwardly omitted. Here is one passage from the book "And if it did-not that I was saying it was a crush, just saying IF-would it mean that you were gay, or a lesbian, or whatever word you were supposed to call it, if you liked only one particular girl?" It's her first crush on a girl (and she does later admit it's a crush, she really likes her and it's written in an obvious and cute way). And later when one of her friends finally learns about her crush she says "Mattie, at theater camp I knew a bunch of kids who are gay. Like my good friend Henry, for example! You think I'm incapable of respecting privacy?" Just instances like that, especially the first one, that had me rather annoyed. It would have been so easy, a few times, to add "bi" in there (and would have actually made it less words for that matter, rather than tip toeing around the word as it were).
I know this wasn't the point of the book, that it ment to be inclusive and for middle schoolers (need I say again I knew in middle school that I am bisexual and could've really used a book back then to show me it was ok, not evil or wrong and that I didn't need to pick a side like I was constantly told?) but I felt like it was saying "it's ok to be gay, but not bisexual" again I know it wasn't trying to say that at all, but with the awkward wording at times to avoid saying the word bi I couldn't help but feel that way. I can see now it didn't mean to say that but I doubt 13 year old me, the age this book is aimed at, would have seen that. I would've just saw "Gay is ok, not bi, we don't say bi, PICK A SIDE!" I worry I would've missed that that wasn't the point due to the tip toeing on eggshells to avoid saying the word that, to me, made it sound awkward at times. Gay and lesbian were said multiple times...not a single time was bi said. So gay and lesbian are ok to say to middle schoolers but don't dare say Bi? WHY? Why does it seem authors are so scared of the word bi? I can not wrap my head around it. And I worry how 13 year old me would have re-acted to this book.
On a brighter note I enjoyed the characters and the story-line for the most part. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments. The characters are nice and believable middle schoolers. Annoying at times exactly like a real 8th grader would be, but good kids. I don't know of any middle schoolers that actually like Shakespeare or crocheting but that could just be me, everyone is different.
The crush was very cute, and the feelings were well described and relate-able. It was a rather accepting book, which is a good thing as I have heard people say "It's unrealistic to have people be so accepting of LGBT+ people in a book! It isn't right!" well for one there are plenty of accepting people out there, but yes there are jerks too. However, personally, I think stories like this that show acceptance are important too. LGBT+ people and relationships need to be normalized, and books like this can help that.
I thought the ending was a bit vague but again, that could just be me.
The parents are there and believable as well. The way Mattie feels about her parents also felt real. They are good parent relationships and Mattie does get annoyed with them just like teens do. I remember those feels.
There are plenty of good messages through-out the book. Friendships, acceptance, being yourself, the problematic aspects of Romeo and Juliet get called out by the kids, etc. There are many reasons to love this book.
From all the laughter, good feels, cute F/F crush, and nice messages I couldn't give this book a bad rating, but from being let down so much (personally) I couldn't exactly give it a high rating either. So I went with 3 stars. Maybe i'm over-reacting. Maybe it's just me. I have no idea, these are nothing more than my own thoughts and feelings. I do still believe this book is a step in the right direction. A book like this never would have been published (that I know of or at least not become well known) back 15 years ago. I hope this book does help some kid out there or to help some kids learn acceptance of people different than them.