Kirkus Reviews QR Code
ROMIETTE AND JULIO by Sharon M. Draper


by Sharon M. Draper

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-689-82180-8
Publisher: Atheneum

A tale of forbidden love with intentional references to Shakespeare’s play, perhaps especially to its West Side Story incarnation, with a similar focus on issues of race and gangs. Julio Montague, a recent Texas transplant to Cincinnati, quickly falls for “Afroqueen” during cyber-chats on the Internet. He soon discovers his soulmate is African-American Romiette Cappelle, who coincidentally attends his high school. The two are destined to meet and fall in love, despite warnings from the local gang who strongly disapproves of their romance. After the two central players ignore several warnings, gun-wielding gang leaders kidnap them, bind them, and cast them adrift in a boat that is struck by lightning, nearly drowning them (and straining credibility). The parallels to Shakespeare’s play are often self-conscious and belabored, drawn at odd moments in the story. Still, a straightforward, uncluttered narrative will hook readers into the well-paced plot and sympathetic characters; loose ends are tied more neatly than a package, prettying up the ending by putting a happily-ever-after spin on the lovers’ fates. (Fiction. 12-14)