"Cohen has made an essential classic cool."—Beth Kephart
"Juliet Capulet would find a worthy BFF in Beatrice Bunson."—Cordelia Frances Biddle
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 after school; instead 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.
"Beatrice Bunson's Guide to Romeo and Juliet whisked me straight back to my own high school days, when I read Juliet beside a Romeo I'd long blushingly admired. Shakespeare was talking to me, I was sure, but I wasn't always precisely sure what he was saying—a confusion I would have never experienced had I had this smart, tender story within a story at hand. Explicating the secret codes of heady teen romance with as much sagacity as she deciphers Shakespearean sonnets and wit, Cohen has made an essential classic cool."—Beth Kephart, author of Going Over, One Thing Stolen, and This Is the Story of You
"Paula Marantz Cohen hits all the right notes in her charming, wise and heart-stirring tale of teen angst, young love, betrayal and loyalty. Beatrice 'Bea' Bunson makes a spunky heroine, a member of the 'smart set' who's too self-deprecating to recognize her worth as she navigates high-school cliques, family dramas, and not-so-secret crushes. Reading Romeo and Juliet for an English class, Bea ponders the weighty issues of honor and courage, and then finds those forces impacting her life. I couldn't help but picture Juliet time-traveling to a 21st century teen environment—and then went one step further and imagined Shakespeare's young heroine coping with tense school lunches and clandestine beer parties. Juliet Capulet would find a worthy BFF in Beatrice Bunson."—Cordelia Frances Biddle, author of the Martha Beale mystery series
"This is a charming book. The story of Romeo and Juliet intertwines with the more comic vicissitudes (SAT word) of Beatrice Bunson's first year in high school. Paula Marantz Cohen clearly knows both Shakespeare and ninth graders. Warning to teachers of high school Shakespeare classes: be prepared to revise your lesson plan."—Gillian Murray Kendall, professor of English Language and Literature (and Shakespeare scholar), Smith College
"What's the best way to deal with high school drama? Apply the problem-solving strategies of Shakespeare…Cohen offers up lessons of theory and language while engaging her readers with enjoyable characters who find themselves entangled in Shakespearean plots that must be unwound with compassion and insight…Her discussions of plot, language, and thematic elements will serve young scholars better than SparkNotes. Ideal for those who are charmed by the romance of Shakespeare. And who isn't?"—Kirkus Reviews
"Cohen cleverly uses the plot of Romeo and Juliet as a window onto Beatrice’s life and others’ dilemmas. Thanks to its timeless questions of class, honor, and gender roles, the play has something useful to say about everything from Twitter rumors to high school feuds...Teens shouldn’t be without a copy of this sparkling novel; it will make a good companion for working through the classics."—Foreword Reviews
"An entertaining work for those who enjoy quick reads with realistic characters. For fans of Meg Cabot's books."—School Library Journal
"A deftly crafted novel...highly recommended addition to both high school and community library YA Fiction collections."—Midwest Book Review
"The focus upon the play within a book is extremely creative, and, as Bea reads the play for the first time, provides new perspectives for both readers who have just discovered Shakespeare and those who are familiar with his work...Anyone who has read Romeo and Juliet, or enjoys discussion of Shakespeare’s works will find this novel to be engaging..."—Teen Reads
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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.