Romiette and Julio by Sharon M. Draper
ISBN-13: 978-0689842092
Simon Pulse, New York, 1999
320 p.

GENRE: General Fiction, Romance

TEASER: Can Romi and Julio avoid ending up like Shakespeare’s tragic couple?

SUMMARY: Romiette (Romi) Cappelle has been having dreams of drowning in water and fire. She meets Julio Montague in a chat room and they instantly hit it off. Julio has just moved to Cincinnati from Corpus Christi, Texas because of gang problems. In these dreams, there is the voice of a young man she does not recognize calling her. The evildoer, a local gang, opposes the relationship between Romi and Julio. They threaten the couple to break it off. Now Romi, Julio, and their friends must find a way for them to not end up like the classic couple in Shakespeare’s tragedy.

CRITIQUE: The story is told in third-person perspective and it is switched off mainly between Romi and Julio. However, there are instances where the story is told from outside the couple’s perspective. Unsurprisingly, the main theme and conflict in this book deals with the problems faced by biracial couples. they face challenges from a local gang and even their parents. Julio’s father doesn’t approve of his son’s relationship with Romiette because his first lover was killed by African-American gang members.

i appreciated that the story was not a mirror image of the original tale. I liked that they were learning about Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet while their own story unfolds. I am not a fan of sappy romances so some of the book felt a little too cheesy for me. However, regardless of my personal feelings towards it, I feel it the language wasn’t overly flowery or romantic considering that it is a romance about star-crossed lovers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sharon M. Draper is an African-American New York Times bestselling author and teacher. She began writing after a student asked her to submit an essay to a magazine contest. She was awarded $5000 and her story One Small Touch was published. She describes herself as a creator, visionary, and poet.

Draper has won numerous awards for her work. She is a five-time winner of the Coretta Scot King Literary Award. She has also been honored as the National Teacher of the Year.



CHALLENGE ISSUES: Some people might object to the gang violence in this novel.

DEFENSE: I would suggest looking at the ALA’s support page for challenged materials.

CURRICULUM TIES: Shakespearian Literature

BOOKTALKING IDEAS: How do you feel this retelling stands up to the original Shakespearian tragedy?

Do you feel that the ending was the right choice for a modern retelling given the outcome of the original tale?

WHY INCLUDED: I chose this book because I love redone classics. I feel that it is a great way for teachers and librarians to get teens to relate to the literature. I also admire that it is about the problems faced by biracial relationships.