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The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet

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3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  4,238 Ratings  ·  447 Reviews
Hamlet Kennedy just wants to be your average, happy, vanilla eighth grader. But with Shakespearean scholar parents who dress in Elizabethan regalia and generally go about in public as if it were the sixteenth century, that’s not terribly easy. It gets worse when they decide that Hamlet’s genius sevenyear- old sister will attend middle school with her— and even worse when t ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published January 7th 2010 by Penguin Group (USA) (first published October 23rd 2009)
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Hippiemouse420 I don't think you need to know anything about Shakespeare to read this book. It's contemporary, and when Shakespearean phrases or ideas are mentioned,…moreI don't think you need to know anything about Shakespeare to read this book. It's contemporary, and when Shakespearean phrases or ideas are mentioned, they're explained.(less)

Community Reviews

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Dina Toum-Benchekroun
Summary of Novel

“The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet”, by Erin Dionne is an amusing tale that not only captures some of the pitfalls of middle school- it conveys a very crucial and excellent moral lesson about fitting in in life and being true to one’s self. Hamlet Kennedy, the main character and antagonist in this story, is entering eighth grade, her last year of middle school. All she has ever wanted was to fit in and be a normal averaged girl in eighth grade, yet that will be extremely d
...more
Marjorie Light
Oct 04, 2009 Marjorie Light rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Erin Dionne’s done it again! Her first novel, MODELS DON’T EAT CHOCOLATE COOKIES, won praise and garnered some excellent reviews. The latest, THE TOTAL TRAGEDY OF A GIRL NAMED HAMLET, another mid-grade novel, is sure to have students talking (and reading!). Dionne’s sense of humor is woven throughout her tightly written plot, filled with funny situations that would give any student angst. In honor of the main character, appropriate quotes from Shakespeare’s play are sprinkled throughout the revi ...more
Kassandra
Feb 10, 2013 Kassandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me explain how I found myself reading this book. My dad bought me a book that I already had, so he took me back to the bookstore to exchange it for a new one. I saw this book, read the back cover, and decided to give it a shot. I read the first page and stopped reading. Then months later I picked it up again and finished it in two days. That's how I read a lot of books, don't ask me why.

This book is an easy 4.5 stars, no questions asked. The story of Hamlet is so unique and realistic. Hamlet
...more
Jan
Jul 20, 2014 Jan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Poor Hamlet. She just wants to hang out with her close group of friends and make it through 8th grade by flying under the radar and not standing out. Kind of hard when Hamlet’s 7 year old genius sister Desdemona (Dezzie) who up to now has been home schooled, will now taking classes at Hamlet’s middle school. Dezzie is ready for college but still needs to take music appreciation and art classes to fill out her transcript. On the first day of school Hamlet just wants to connect with her friends an ...more
Isabella Caballero
I chose this book because it was on my book shelf and I hadn't really known if it interested me. The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet is about a middle school who tries to fit in and have the best school year so far, seeing as she's now in eighth grade. All hope of that wish coming true comes two an end when her genius, seven year old sister begins attending school with her. Hamlet's family is anything but ordinary, if her name is any indication. Her parents passionate about the Bard and cou ...more
Mimi
Feb 10, 2012 Mimi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: older-children
This book really made me feel like I was in eighth grade again. I thought Dionne did a really good job of making the drama and stress of eighth grade seem really real without seeming ridiculous. I think it is easy for adults to look back at middle school with the attitude of "those silly kids with all their imaginary angst," but Dionne reminded me of how those things really were a big deal to me and the anguish at times could be very real.

This is a story about a girl (poor girl—her actual first
...more
Dee
Mar 21, 2011 Dee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young girls and even adults who enjoy YA and Shakespeare
Recommended to Dee by: The title caught my eye
Shelves: young-adult
I thought this was a very clever book. I loved all the Shakespeare quotes and references to the Bard. Down to naming their children Hamlet and Desdemona to the quirky t-shirts they wore; it was a hoot. My favorite was dad's T with the number 2 with two bees and the word not and 2 bees in a circle with a line through it. Hamlet starts eight grade and along with her is her seven-year-old genius sister who is there to learn social skills who also happens to be Hamlet's pre-algebra tutor. If that is ...more
Jami
May 31, 2010 Jami rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grades
Loved the title and the cover art (yes, I tend to judge a book by it's cover), but the book itself was a bit of a disappointment. It could have been a kind of fun middle-grades read, but it seemed a little too silly, too melodramatic (even for middle school), and just overall trying too hard.

It was hard to sympathize with the whiney protagonist or to really envision an 8-year-old (her college-level intelligent little sister) talking or acting the way she did. And the parents were just too over-
...more
Emily S.
May 11, 2010 Emily S. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
While you'd think having your seven year old sister being in eigth grade with you would be an interesting conflict, it fell flat for me. I could see the author trying to up the suspense by adding a mystery crush, failing grades, and an unexpected talent, but they were trite and obvious. Maybe I'm too old to appreciate how tough middle school is. The MC's biggest fear, her ability to read Shakespeare with ease, just didn't seem like a big deal. I couldn't even finish this book and that's saying s ...more
Megan
Dec 19, 2015 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cute story. What English teacher doesn't love a book with a myriad references to Shakespeare?
Cleo
I always find something surprising when I'm browsing. The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet was one of those books. I picked it up, and ended up loving it...most of it. "All Hamlet Kennedy wants is to be a normal eighth grader. But with parents like hers - Shakespearean scholars who actually dress in Elizabethan regalia . . . in public! - it's not that easy. As if they weren't strange enough, her genius seven-year-old sister will be attending her middle school, and is named the new math tutor ...more
Phebe Krutsch
Mar 14, 2012 Phebe Krutsch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the book the total tragedy of a girl named hamlet produced and written by the author Erin Dionne, published this book in the year January 7, 2010 with 285 pages. Hamlet and Dezzie are the two main characters in this book, hamlet is dezzie’s big sister who is taking classes lower than Dezzie is, although hamlet is in the eighth grade she has long hair, and is very loving and caring when she wants to be, or at least when her parents make sure she is watching her sister’s every movement while th ...more
Brandee Price
Apr 30, 2014 Brandee Price rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
**4.5 Stars**

"All's not fair in life and middle school..."

No truer words have been spoken. And while I think it would be cool having parents who are Shakespearean scholars that dress in Elizabethan-era clothing - in public - and serve dinners from an Elizabethan-era cookbook, I can see how that might cause a few problems for a middle schooler. Add to that a genius 7 year old sister, who is matriculating in the same grade as you because she needs the art credit for her college courses as well as
...more
Esther K.
Sep 20, 2012 Esther K. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet
by Erin Dionne
304 pages

This book is about a girl named Hamlet Kennedy, in 8th grade. Just like the character Hamlet in one of Shakesphere's plays, she is having a tragic situation. First of all, she has a genius 7 year old little sister named Desdemona(after a character from one of Shakesphere's play) who is entering 8th grade with her.(Her parents were even thinking about putting Desdemona into high school but she might have a hard time, so they decided t
...more
Kate
Oct 22, 2009 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I finished THE TOTAL TRAGEDY OF A GIRL NAMED HAMLET, I closed the book, still laughing, and had a few thoughts.

1. I wish Erin Dionne had gone to my junior high school. From her writing, you can just tell that her sense of humor and empathy make her totally the kind of person you'd want to sit with at lunch. You'd probably be laughing so hard you'd have milk coming out your nose. But it would be worth it. (Note: I've met Erin a couple times at conference/book signing things, and she IS reall
...more
Ms. Patterson
Sep 06, 2011 Ms. Patterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hamlet Kennedy just wants to fit in. Eighth grade is hard enough without being in the spotlight, but thanks to a genius little sister and her Shakespearean professor parents that's exactly where she finds herself. Okay, it's weird enough having to live with a name like Hamlet, but how would you like to have a class with your seven-year-old sister? When Hamlet's English and History teachers decide to do a 'Salute to Shakespeare' unit, Hamlet just knows her parents will parade through her school i ...more
Julie
Apr 15, 2011 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Heidi-Marie
A fun, light read of a girl coming to grips with the "unfair" nature of teenage-hood and discovering more of who she is. I like the "twist" of the guy situation, for though I suspected the pig-giver, I was happy with how the difficulties were resolved. I thought that Hamlet was a bit woe-is-me-I'm-the-victim, but I think she was supposed to be portrayed this way. Because weren't plenty of us like that as teenagers? *ahem* That's why I love that she says at the end that KC was right and she neede ...more
Edna
You’re registering for 8th grade, and your parents are dressed up in Shakespearian clothing – not because there’s a Renaissance fair going on – noooo - they dress in Shakespearian clothing all the time. All the time. So, now you’re showing up in the main office, you’re standing next to your parents who are dressed in heavy velvet and brocade, what could worse?

This could be worse - your parents are registering your 7 year old sister in your classes. You see, your 7 year old sister is a genius, in
...more
Tanna
Nov 24, 2013 Tanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The two main characters are sisters; Hamlet and Desdemona or Dezzie. Their parents are both Shakespearean scholars, totally obsessed with the Bard, and embrace Elizabethan language and dress… 24/7. Dezzie, a seven year old genius, is enrolled in Hamlet’s eighth grade class so she can experience social interaction with people before enrolling in college courses. On top of that, Hamlet finds out that her class will be studying and performing a Shakespeare play, discovering an unexpected talent in ...more
Henrietta Wimple
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shelley
Apr 20, 2012 Shelley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
This was a fun read. The story was cute, the characters were entertaining, and I especially enjoyed how seamlessly Shakespeare (and all things related to the Bard) were woven through the story.

I would have given it 4 stars, except I found too many mechanical errors with the writing that made it hard to read. (I had to go back and reread more sentences than I should have.)

Sentences like, "A colleague of my parents' who took a new job in Norway gave him to us." (p. 41) This could have easily been
...more
Julia
This is a charming book about a girl who has to step out from her carfully cultivated invisibility - which is in reaction to her genius little sister and extreme Shakepearean scholar parents - into her own type of spoglight. Hamlet herself is a great character. Her frustrations are totally believable. I found myself cringing for her at some of the more insane things her family did. It's a great coming of age story about a middle school student.

Though Hamlet is in the 8th grade, the story in some
...more
Alana Mora
The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet is a good book to read. This book, however; is not apart of a series. It is an interesting book to read because there good things to find out about middle school and it's funny. So, my book is about a girl named Hamlet that just started a new year in 8th grade. Hamlet's sister is named Desdemona, or Dezzie, who just started 6th grade and her mom made Hamlet show Desdemona around campus. Everyone started to ask questions like "why didn't you ever tell us y ...more
Snogged
Apr 14, 2012 Snogged rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was positively a "Shakespeare-ience." :P

It's cute, funny, and felt like a mostly realistic portrayal of the 8th grade experience. I liked how Erin Dionne explored the concepts of "fitting in" vs. "sticking out" and I liked that we saw Hamlet struggle with both of these concepts. I also liked the inclusion of Desdemona, the girl genius, and the school counselor who just seemed like such a great listener. I also loved all the Shakespeare references and hoo boy, there was plenty of those
...more
Martha
Feb 05, 2010 Martha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a hoot. It is (I corrected the it's--you must read the book to get the humor) written for junior high school readers but fun and interesting for adults, at least, this adult.

I love the over-the-top parents. My husband has a cousin who is just like them. The first time we stayed with them, we shared a room with his model of York Minster. You just gotta love relatives like that. Of course, I'm pretty comfortable with geekiness myself.

Great dialog. It takes you back to junior high s
...more
April
The Total Tragedy of A Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne is something I could see crossing over from MG territory into YA territory, although the protagonist is an 8th grader, she's utterly charming and someone I find relatable, plus this book isn't dumbed down, never once did I find it to be condescending towards me, the reader.
Read the rest of my review here
Nicole
Feb 25, 2010 Nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was initially loving this YA book for it's witty references and Shakespearean humor, but the plot itself failed to live up to the writing style. The main character, a girl named Hamlet, is extremely likable, but the story itself had very few original moments or flair. I still enjoyed reading it. Her genius 7 year old sister was hilarious.
Catherine
Oct 15, 2014 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hamlet is girl who is NOT ordinary. But, believe it or not, she is the most normal of her family. Her parents LOVE Shakespeare and wear 14th century clothing and speak all old and stuff. Her 7 year old sister is a little Einstein and reads at a college grade level. But as non-weird as Hamlet may seem, she has just unearthed a secret about herself that nobody knew before…
Meredith
The Total Tragedy of A Girl Named Hamlet was very repetitive. It seemed to me like the same thing over and over again. I didn't dislike this book, I thought it was okay. The characters seemed well developed- but the fact that the 7- year- old was taking college classes was a bit odd. Overall, The Total Tragedy of A Girl Named Hamlet was not great.
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Word Game 43 21 Mar 22, 2014 07:48PM  
How do you find the use of history to make a book about a modern girl more relatable? 1 4 Feb 17, 2013 02:04PM  
If you had Hamlet's parents.... 6 16 May 20, 2012 08:21AM  
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I write books for tweens, teens, and anyone who survived junior high.

Please note: I have changed my review policy. I'll no longer be using the star rating system--I'm an author, not a reviewer or editor, and I'd rather support other authors by not ranking their books. I write honest (brief) reviews for each book I read, so please look to those to find out what I loved.
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