Set in the heart of Chicago’s Little Italy, this modern-day take on Shakespeare’s famed star-crossed-love story finds Gigi (nee Julietta) Caputo and Roman Monte falling hard for each other despite the generations-old feud between their families.
Though the Montes’ latest prank threatens to destroy her family’s restaurant business and send them packing to Peoria, Gigi can’t deny the power of first love. Together, she and Roman set out to uncover the truth behind the war and to heal old wounds so that they can be together. It’s a promising premise, but the novel never successfully rises to meet it. Alternating between the present-day account of Gigi and Roman’s plight and flashbacks to how the rift between the two families began, the novel has all of the requisite people and parts, but it ultimately lacks a soul. Riddled with clichés and bogged down by stilted, inauthentic dialogue, the story falls flat, never capturing the passion that is so essential to this classic tale. Roman and Gigi share only a few stolen moments, which will leave readers expecting a great romance both unsatisfied and unconvinced that what the teens feel for each other is anything more than a classic crush.
Readers would be wise to choose another from the long list of retellings already out there…or better yet, stick with the original. (Fiction. 13 & up)