Beatrice Bunson's Guide to Romeo and Juliet by Paula Marantz Cohen was well reviewed by Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal.
What's the best way to deal with high school drama? Apply the problem-solving strategies of Shakespeare. "It should be exciting to start high school, thought Bea—only it wasn't." On the first day of freshman year, Bea learns that her expectations of high school might not match reality. One problem is that Bea's best friend achieved both a new, hot body and a leap into the cool group while Bea was away at summer camp. Another problem is that Bea's longtime crush turns out to be a jerk. Luckily, there's a new teacher at the head of the honors English classroom who guides Bea's class through the twists and turns of Romeo and Juliet, showing them how the play can be applicable to their own lives. 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. The student body is not notably diverse; Bea, her teacher, and her crush are all evidently white. Cohen writes with a light romantic touch, only occasionally slipping into the pedantic: "Listening to all this, Bea came to a bunch of conclusions that connected to Romeo and Juliet." 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? (Fiction. 12-15)
School Library Journal:
Gr 7 Up—Beatrice and Nan have been best friends almost all of their lives. Now a freshman, Nan has transformed herself from a frumpy, nerdy eighth grader to a trim, cool high schooler. This, of course, changes not only Nan's personality but also her relationship with Beatrice, who is still considered one of the "smart kids." Struggling to figure out how to maintain the closeness Beatrice once shared with Nan while identifying how she fits in is the heart of this somewhat engaging novel. Beatrice is relieved and excited when she finds out that the older, dowdy, female freshman English teacher has been replaced by the young Mr. Martin. He introduces the students to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. As the class dives deeper into the play, Beatrice finds herself comparing her real life with a Shakespearian one. She realizes that, just as there is more to Romeo and Juliet than meets the eye, there is more to Beatrice than most of her classmates (even Beatrice herself) could first admit. Cohen integrates snippets of the play into the plot structure in a way that helps readers understand the stanzas' hidden meanings. Those unable to decipher the prose will be relieved by how the characters explain the play's nuances in interior monologues and dialogue. The biggest drawback is the novel's predictability. VERDICT An entertaining work for those who enjoy quick reads with realistic characters. For fans of Meg Cabot's books.—Amy Caldera, Dripping Springs Middle School, Dripping Springs, TX