Dec 19, 2017 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on For Poetry Lovers

For Poetry Lovers

My friend Britt (at Confessions of a Book Habitue) passed Pamela Laskin’s Ronit & Jamil along to me when she finished it, and it’s been kicking around my room ever since.  Neither one of us cherishes “Romeo and Juliet” as a favorite play, but a retelling set in Israel/Palestine?  You’ve got to admit–it’s inspired.  I can’t honestly think of a better setting to make the story seem relevant today (although to be fair, I’ve had a few too many late nights, so there’s quite a lot that I can’t think of at any given time this month!).  The voices of the two teens are intentionally very similar, which requires a decently close reading but possibly makes for even more depth to the concept.  There’s a lot of physical longing–okay, maybe lusting–in the first half, but I do actually remember being a teenager.  (It’s certainly not inaccurate.)  The ending is perhaps abrupt, but again, I can’t think of a better way to marry her vision for the story with Shakespeare’s.

My biggest issue with Laskin’s retelling is really a personal preference; I’d rather my verse novels tip the scale on the novel side of things, and Laskin strikes me as a poet first.  She uses some specific forms of poetry that I learned about at one point but can’t remember the names of–college was a long time ago,  you know?–and pays specific homage to middle eastern poetry, which is as it should be.  Ultimately, for a poetic verse novel retelling of R&J, this is probably excellent.  For me as a reader, the premise rocked, the execution was less my thing, but the author’s note at the end made me happy.

You’ll have to tell me what you think.

Ronit & Jamil


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