"Juliet Capulet would find a worthy BFF in Beatrice Bunson."—Cordelia Frances Biddle
"Cohen has made an essential classic cool."—Beth Kephart
High school begins, and to Beatrice Bunson nothing is the same, not even her best friend, Nan. The "new" Nan doesn't hang out with Bea; she's running for Student Council and going to parties and avoiding Bea at lunchtime. The boys who were gross in middle school have become surprisingly polite, while the "cool" kids are still a mystery. Bea's older sister, meanwhile, acts like she's living in a soap opera.
On the bright side, there's English class with Mr. Martin, where Beatrice discovers that Shakespeare has something to say about almost everything—and that nothing in life is as dramatic as Romeo and Juliet.
But when Nan gets in over her head in her new social life, it's up to Beatrice to restore her reputation—and she may need to make a few new friends to pull it off. One of them, the slightly brainy guy that Beatrice meets at her grandmother's retirement home, is definitely kind of cute, and probably dateable. (Fortunately, nothing is the same in high school.)
As Beatrice and her classmates tackle Romeo and Juliet, they unveil the subtleties of the play as well as broader lessons of love, family, honor, and misunderstandings. Guided by Mr. Martin, these ninth-graders help us to understand Shakespeare, as Shakespeare helps them begin to understand themselves.
"Warning to teachers of high school Shakespeare classes: be prepared to revise your lesson plan."—Gillian Murray Kendall, Smith College
"Ideal for those who are charmed by the romance of Shakespeare. And who isn't?"—Kirkus Reviews
Paula Marantz Cohen's novels include Suzanne Davis Gets a Life (Paul Dry Books 2014), Jane Austen in Scarsdale or Love, Death and the SATs, and What Alice Knew. She teaches English at Drexel University.