This debut novel combines a love of Shakespeare with the very real issue of gender expectations and the difficulty of fitting into roles defined by others.
Emma heads to school with a stylish new, short ’do, hoping for a fresh start after a disastrous freshman year. She’s given up soccer for drama, turning former friends into current enemies. Despite her inexperience, she’s unexpectedly promoted to stage manager. Everyone in the school production of Hamlet just adds to her stress. Brandon—hot white senior, director, and Emma’s crush—is not pulling his weight. Emma’s talented, white, bisexual BFF, Lulu, has to settle for being Ophelia instead of Hamlet. Then Emma falls through a forbidden trapdoor in the stage—into Shakespeare’s actual Globe Theatre in Elizabethan England. With her new pixie cut and slender frame, she’s mistaken for a boy and draws the attention of the Globe’s Ophelia—a boy who thinks she’s a boy, too. As she travels between centuries and cultures, she tries to cope with her own problems as well as those of her friends—both past and present. Emma’s narration includes enough minutiae to please theater-loving readers. Her transitions between times are handled fairly smoothly, Emma employing her knowledge of Elizabethan English to communicate successfully in the 17th century.
This entertaining and original novel deals not just with growing up, but with a fresh and different interpretation of “to be or not to be.” (Fantasy. 12-16)