A mistake leads to obsession and tragedy in this stark modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet.
Anthony Lopes spent the first 17 years of his life in the blue-collar Portuguese-American neighborhood of Galilee, R.I., wanting nothing more than to be a fisherman, like his late father and all the straightforward, strapping men he knows. But a chance discovery by a friend tempts the young man into one foolish move, and an attempted burglary of a supposedly empty house results in both death and love. The death is accidental, as Anthony pushes a man over a stair railing in order to escape. But before that fatal moment, a brief meeting in the dark between Anthony and the victim’s daughter marks them both. The young woman, Hannah Forbes, may be summering at a nearby island, but she belongs to another world. Unlike Anthony, a poor high-school dropout, she’s rich, her Rhode Island summer only a break from the prestigious girls’ school she attends in a ritzy Connecticut suburb. He arranges a beach meeting, and before she knows who he is, they fall into heedless teenage love. When he’s captured and jumps bail, they run away together to a romantic finale—or at least that’s how the older, hospitalized Anthony remembers it. The book is told in flashbacks, and the suggestion that Anthony might be plagued by mental instability casts doubt on his story.
The plain prose is curiously cool and can be distancing, but Shakespeare, as reinterpreted by Greene (I’ll Never Be Long Gone, 2005, etc.), still has the power to shock.