Published by Swoon Reads on February 7th 2017
Source: Author Review Copy
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
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Understudies never get to perform
. . . which is why being Juliet's understudy in the school's yearly "Evening with Shakespeare" is the perfect role for Emily. She can earn some much-needed extra credit while pursuing her main goal of spending time with Wes, aka Romeo, aka the hottest, nicest guy in school (in her completely unbiased opinion). And she meant to learn her lines, really, it's just: a) Shakespeare is HARD ,b) Amanda, aka the "real" Juliet, makes her run errands instead of lines, andc) there's no point because Amanda would never miss the chance to be the star of the show.
Then, Amanda ends up in the hospital and Emily, as the (completely unprepared!) understudy, has to star opposite the guy of her dreams. Oops?
Check this book out if you’re looking for a fun and flirty light read that is mindless and laugh-out-loud funny. Extremely superficial at times, I can see why people liken this book to a romantic comedy movie. The awkward, clumsy main character Emily can be an absolute train wreck, but you can’t help but read what she’s going to do next. Although a bit juvenile in terms of audience (I believe a five years younger me would have enjoyed this a lot more), Romeo and What’s Her Name features a down-to-earth, witty girl on her path to gain the heart of the boy she likes.
This book is full of high school stereotypes but manages to stay charming at the same time. There’s the three best friends group the heroine is a part of, the handsome jock said heroine is in a crush with (but on a superficial level, as readers don’t really delve deep into their attraction), and the evil girl who tries to seduce the jock away from heroine. It’s cliche, terribly predictable, lame at times (while extremely embarrassing at others), yet not too shabby as a rom-com read. Cap it at 200 pages, and it’s a flighty no-commitment, mindless read that’s easy to start and finish.
Those giant brown eyes, that little dimple in his right cheek that’s so deep you just want to poke it, the chiseled jawline that ought to belong to a Disney prince, those muscles that only come from playing lacrosse a million hours a week…
(the rest of the paragraph is praising Wes’s looks)
There are a lot of cringe-worthy moments (a LOT), yet despite that you can’t help but smile at Emily’s embarrassing antics. Emily’s friends hatch a plan for her to act as the understudy of Juliet in the play Romeo and Juliet, where Amanda (the mean girl) is cast with Wes (the handsome jock) as the main leads. When Amanda goes to the hospital last minute though, Emily has to fill in for her. Unfortunately, Emily hadn’t been memorizing her lines as an understudy and comes up with hilarious, cringe-tastic improv lines for the play. It was hilarious, terribly, terribly unrealistic, and charming.
All I could think about was that WES ROSENTHAL’S hand was on top of mine.
What was happening?! That was so strange.
There’s not much else from this book. Everything felt like watching a high school TV show episode, with the usual relationship and friendship drama going on and a dearth of parent appearances. Emily’s bright, hilarious character really made the day, and the end was extremely satisfying. But I couldn’t see any of my high school junior friends doing what her friends did, so I had to suspend my belief throughout the book. Who knows, maybe other high school juniors get to experience these fairy-tale like, cutesy and cringe-worthy situations. I know I never have, nor will I. I’d also like to comment that Emily’s narrative made me suffer from secondhand embarrassment: a lot. Sometimes her reasoning or the logic behind her actions made me quickly skim over the roller coaster of a scene it would create. One word: yikes.
In a world full of diverse contemporaries, Romeo and What’s Her Name is nothing special at all. With a heteronormative cast of mostly white, cis-gendered characters, it’s not only a sad reflection of high school life, but offers no compelling elements other than a “sweet superficial love story.” The only POC character in the book is the mixed-race mean girl, Amanda, who tries to steal Wes from Emily and her group of white friends. Sorry, but when I walk through the hallways of my high school, I see people ranging in culture, sexuality, gender, and more. How can I take this book seriously when it reflects none of that?
Start this book with no expectations, and you’ll find yourself enjoying a mindless read with cute yet cringe-tastic scenes and dialogue that just makes you wince yet smile at the same time. It’s a wince-smile, haha. I can totally see this as a high school rom com, complete with extreme secondhand embarrassment situations that are unrealistic with a predominantly white cast of characters, yet somehow come off as fun and fluffy all the same. And by fluffy, I mean that there’s almost no substance in this book, just sweet whipped cream.
Rating; 1.5 out of 5
Thank you Macmillan for the review copy!
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