|Now||2023||Previous||Articles||Road Essays||Road Reviews||Author||Black Authors||Title||Source||Age||Genre||Series||Format||Inclusivity||LGBTA||Portfolio||Artwork||WIP|
Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee is as the title implies, a Romeo and Juliet pastiche. That it happens to be a middle grade and queer is startling and delightful.
Mattie is a star student and a voracious reader. She ends up part of the sixth grade play and she wants a minor role because she's a reader, not a performer. She's had a crush on a boy for a while and her besties are waiting for to finally make a move. But then, there's new girl Gemma (who is perfect for the role of Juliet and is instantly cast as her) and Mattie's world turns upside down.
Mattie is completely, utterly, one hundred percent taken in with Gemma and slowly but surely comes to the realization that she's bi. (She does still have the crush on the boy but Gemma seems to be genuinely interested in her, too).
The school happens to have no rules about who can or can't play roles in a play (unlike the strictly gendered roles in the Charlotte's Web play in George. And while there are a couple goofballs teasing about who gets what role, the school (teachers, administrators, and students) are all rather positive about who gets cast for each roles.
Each character in the book has a Shakespearian counterpart and they aren't necessarily the roles they've been cast in the play. Being familiar with the play (though there is enough explanation of the roles in the context of the novel) helps to understand the school dynamic and the growing relationship between Mattie and Gemma.
Thankfully for our two star-crossed lovers, their school romance isn't a tragedy. They do get a chance at a happily ever after — though what happens after the play is left to the imagination.