Friday, May 18, 2012
When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle
What’s in a name, Shakespeare? I’ll tell you: Everything.
Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy… and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance.
Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends…
Of all the Shakespeare plays I've read, I'd have to say Romeo and Juliet is my least favorite. The title characters are just too annoying for me to enjoy the play itself. However, I'm always up for a Shakespearean retelling, and because When You Were Mine promised such a different perspective on the familiar tale, I began reading with much enthusiasm. And, happily, my enthusiasm never dwindled.
Actually, that's not one hundred percent true, but it's the exception that proves the rule, right? Something like that. Anyway-- the beginning of the book, before Juliet appears, took some getting used to. Rose starts off by describing everything and everyone in her life so that the rest of the story doesn't need so much exposition, and unfortunately her descriptions include a lot of "my best friends are gorgeous and wonderful and I'm just me," which I cannot stand any character in any novel complaining about. Rose also speaks in such a normal fashion that it was a bit alarming; she's very conversational, which is realistic and easy to read, but I was bit surprised by it because it sounded exactly like what I was hearing at school that day. Luckily, though, I got used to Rose's easy-going tone pretty quickly, and eventually she shut up about her the beauty of her friends too, allowing me to begin treating the story with the dramatic reactions I typically reserve for things like Friday Night Lights.
Even with the knowledge of the the general pattern of where at least Rob and Juliet's relationship would go, I was always excited to see how the story would get to the end. It's not necessarily unpredictable, but because there's a lot of ambiguity between Rose and some of the other characters, there are plenty of routes that could have been taken. For example, Rose and Rob begin with a complex friendship that only begins to complicate as the story progresses. In the short amount of time before Juliet arrives, it's easy to notice both their romantic connection and the depth of their friendship because of the actions both of them take in progressing their relationship. However, once Juliet arrives, their entire friendship changes because of Rob's interest in her, but the effort they take in both avoiding one another and looking for each other makes it easy to see the depth of their compassion still remains. Similarly, Rose and Juliet have their own set of issues. Juliet's hatred toward Rose often seems unfounded because the reason behind it is not revealed for a while, but the two always manage to have so much tension that extends into Rose's family and friend life that I couldn't help but gasp at some of their interactions. And, one last note: the other Potential Boy in this book? Also a cause of my squeals of both "ahh" and "aw." Love it!
It took me a while to get into it, but I ended up very much enjoying When You Were Mine for its originality, constant excitement, and emotional depth-- all impressive feats for a story where the ending is always clear.
Book details: Simon Pulse/Hardcover/$16.99
Source: sent by publisher for review