Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee
Published by: Aladdin
Pub Date: March 14th 2017
Format: e-arc | Source: NetGalley
Genres: middle grade, contemporary, LGBT
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.
ADORABLE. I loved this from the start! Mattie is a wonderful lead and I thought the voice was pitch perfect. It felt appropriately middle grade without feeling young. It’s a liiittle heavy on the Shakespeare and feels rushed at the end, but those are my only complaints. Star-Crossed is seriously adorable and fun and I liked the depiction of 8th grade and their R&J play, and Gemma! Mattie doesn’t use labels in this book but it’s clear that she’s figuring herself out and it warmed my heart, watching her begin to trust herself and her friends/family. I loved her relationship with her siblings. I’ll be interested to see what other reviewers think of the rep but I thought it was lovely. A quick read worth your time with a seriously cute cover!
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
Published by: Harper Teen
Pub Date: August 30th 2016
Format: ebook | Source: library
Genres: young adult, contemporary, LGBT,
Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.
Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?
Georgia Peaches was a really delightful book for a myriad of reasons. I loved Jo’s voice from the first page and there were so many layers to each character. The cliche “you can’t judge a book by its cover” is very evident in this story. Plus it was funny, adorable, heartwarming, and had lots of pop culture references too! I’m not a religious person but I have friends who are and I like learning about religion. It’s hard not to come off as preachy but Brown hits the sweet spot by showcasing lots of different types of Christians. I think it’s so important for other queer teens to see that they don’t necessarily have to choose between their lifestyle and their faith, that they can have a relationship with God and religion like Jo does. I also like that her dad was a less traditional preacher, using radio to get his message out and that Jo was interested in starting her own radio show to reach teens like her. That was pretty cool!
I really liked the friends that Jo makes in her new town and watching her relationships and trust flourish, especially with BTB and Mary Carlson. Mary Carlson was such a surprise! She was strong in her convictions in every aspect of her life and such an awesome girl. I didn’t always love the choices that Jo made and hate purposeful misunderstandings/lies, but you can understand where she’s coming from at least. Aside from the strong friendships and adorable relationship, I really liked Jo’s stepmom Elizabeth. It was refreshing to see her be more than a caricature and lovely to see her become a true friend/mother figure. I also appreciated her sharing what helped her become a more open minded person after living in such a close minded society. There is a lot of discussion and sharing across the aisle, between Jo and her parents, her friends, her church. I liked getting to see all sides. I highly recommend this charming book, even if you shy away from religion in general.
Have you read either of these books? What did you think?