288p. ebook available. S. & S./Aladdin. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481478489. POP
Gr 46–—When it is announced that the eighth grade play will be Romeo and Juliet, Mattie and her friends shift from obsessing over boys to auditioning for the show. The class's best-looking lad, Liam, is chosen as Romeo, even though he's a clod with the lines. British-born Gemma is Juliet, naturally. Mattie's interest in Gemma intensifies, and eventually Mattie admits the crush to herself. Mattie is recast as Romeo when Liam drops out. Once the kissing scenes begin, Mattie passes out from nerves, but by opening night, she and Gemma are a brilliant, star-crossed couple. This is a mostly breezy young teen romance: the besties are supportive, the boys are pawns, the mean girls are nasty, the school cafeteria is a stage, etc. It is also a sweet coming-out story for junior high readers. The clever Shakespeare content is a bonus, and Dee deserves praise for a strong example of gender-blind casting. The charming cover art accurately portrays the spirit of the novel.
VERDICT A fine choice for middle school libraries in need of accessible LGBTQ stories, and a great option for students reading or performing Romeo and Juliet.

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