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Mattie is chosen to play Romeo opposite her crush in the eighth grade production of Shakespeare’s most beloved play in this Romeo and Juliet inspired novel from the author of Truth or Dare.

Mattie, a star student and passionate reader, is delighted when her English teacher announces the eighth grade will be staging Romeo and Juliet. And she is even more excited when, after a series of events, she finds herself playing Romeo, opposite Gemma Braithwaite’s Juliet. Gemma, the new girl at school, is brilliant, pretty, outgoing—and, if all that wasn’t enough: British.

As the cast prepares for opening night, Mattie finds herself growing increasingly attracted to Gemma and confused, since, just days before, she had found herself crushing on a boy named Elijah. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys AND girls? If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things backstage at the production are starting to rival any Shakespearean drama! In this sweet and funny look at the complicated nature of middle school romance, Mattie learns how to be the lead player in her own life.

277 pages, Hardcover

First published March 14, 2017

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Barbara Dee

16 books323 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 540 reviews
Profile Image for Tesni.
21 reviews1 follower
February 9, 2017
Stumbled upon the tumblr post the author's daughter wrote, exclaiming how she came out to her mum at a young age and then it wasn't until a few years later her mum revealed that she'd been writing this the whole time! Such a lovely and positive idea that I'm excited to read regardless of not fitting the age range!
Profile Image for Dee (Delighting in the Desert!).
283 reviews27 followers
May 9, 2023
4 stars. A very sweet & relatable middle-grade book about having “crushes” on either sex and questioning what that is, all while the kids are putting on a production of “Romeo & Juliet”. Thought it was very kind, but am sure haters will hate on it (sigh)…
Profile Image for Nicole Craswell.
352 reviews59 followers
February 19, 2017
4.5 Stars.

What a fantastic book! I love seeing representation aimed towards young readers and this is such great representation. The main character is kind, intelligent, and relatable. The exploration of her bi identity is wonderful, it doesn't fall into tired tropes and stereotypes, and there are enough scenes that explain the nuances of her identity and the reasons she's struggling with it/ why other people react the ways they do, without feeling preachy or overly educational. Also, the entire thing is mixed in with some really fun exploration of Shakespeare! Though again, Barbara Dee takes a tough subject and explains it in ways that make it easy to understand without being too heavy handed. There were a number of really fun parallels between the story and Romeo and Juliet that were subtle enough not to be overkill but clear enough that I think young readers will be able to pick up on them.

The only issues I had with this book are pretty much due to it being a middle grade book and, as such, all the characters are only about 13. There was a lot of petty middle-school drama/mean girls. Being out of high school, I am very done with that kind of drama but I do remember it being so so important back in middle school so I can understand the inclusion in the book. They also focused on an interpretation of R&J that I'm not a huge fan of (the fairy-tale romance, true love, beautiful story of young love interpretation). I much prefer the more critical interpretation of R&J as essentially a cautionary tale about pointless feuds and teenage infatuation. Though again, it worked much better for the story and in a middle-grade context.

Overall I think this was a wonderful book. I know the author's daughter came out to her at a very young age which is what inspired it, so it's well researched and based on really good sources (her daughter wrote an extensive tumblr post on the subject). I think it was a really good exploration of queer identity in young people. And one of my favorite things is that it was 100% age appropriate for a middle grade novel. Let me explain... Queerness is so often immediately thought of as inherently explicit. Having books like this that show queer identity in kids as a normal, perfectly healthy, and age appropriate thing is so great because it helps stop that stereotype. This is just a great book and I think we need more like it available for children to learn from. I certainly know if I had books like this as a kid I probably wouldn't have spent so much of Junior High and High School so confused.
Profile Image for Coe.
147 reviews8 followers
August 15, 2017

This was amazing RTC

Edit: APR 18


Edit: SEPT 28th


Profile Image for Tyler Gray.
Author 2 books227 followers
June 27, 2017
This is a cute light read about a middle school girl, 8th grade, getting a crush on a girl. She has had a crush on a boy before. It's made clear she still could like another boy, but right now her crush just happens to be a girl and she's trying to come to terms with that. For the most part it's a good book. It's sort of a retelling of Romeo and Juliet but there is no tragedy. No one dies. It's a middle grade book to show that being inclusive of all sexualities is a good and necessary thing, in a light fun read.

Let's get what I didn't like so much out of the way first. I am bisexual, I heard it's a book about a bisexual girl figuring out she is bisexual in 8th grade...exactly the time I did. Yes I knew I am bisexual in middle school and i'm 28 now...i'm still bisexual. I thought this could've been a book I could've really needed/used back when I was that age. I really wanted to love this book and I really tried.

Bisexual or even just Bi is never used, not once, to the point that it's awkwardly omitted. Here is one passage from the book "And if it did-not that I was saying it was a crush, just saying IF-would it mean that you were gay, or a lesbian, or whatever word you were supposed to call it, if you liked only one particular girl?" It's her first crush on a girl (and she does later admit it's a crush, she really likes her and it's written in an obvious and cute way). And later when one of her friends finally learns about her crush she says "Mattie, at theater camp I knew a bunch of kids who are gay. Like my good friend Henry, for example! You think I'm incapable of respecting privacy?" Just instances like that, especially the first one, that had me rather annoyed. It would have been so easy, a few times, to add "bi" in there (and would have actually made it less words for that matter, rather than tip toeing around the word as it were).

I know this wasn't the point of the book, that it ment to be inclusive and for middle schoolers (need I say again I knew in middle school that I am bisexual and could've really used a book back then to show me it was ok, not evil or wrong and that I didn't need to pick a side like I was constantly told?) but I felt like it was saying "it's ok to be gay, but not bisexual" again I know it wasn't trying to say that at all, but with the awkward wording at times to avoid saying the word bi I couldn't help but feel that way. I can see now it didn't mean to say that but I doubt 13 year old me, the age this book is aimed at, would have seen that. I would've just saw "Gay is ok, not bi, we don't say bi, PICK A SIDE!" I worry I would've missed that that wasn't the point due to the tip toeing on eggshells to avoid saying the word that, to me, made it sound awkward at times. Gay and lesbian were said multiple times...not a single time was bi said. So gay and lesbian are ok to say to middle schoolers but don't dare say Bi? WHY? Why does it seem authors are so scared of the word bi? I can not wrap my head around it. And I worry how 13 year old me would have re-acted to this book.

On a brighter note I enjoyed the characters and the story-line for the most part. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments. The characters are nice and believable middle schoolers. Annoying at times exactly like a real 8th grader would be, but good kids. I don't know of any middle schoolers that actually like Shakespeare or crocheting but that could just be me, everyone is different.

The crush was very cute, and the feelings were well described and relate-able. It was a rather accepting book, which is a good thing as I have heard people say "It's unrealistic to have people be so accepting of LGBT+ people in a book! It isn't right!" well for one there are plenty of accepting people out there, but yes there are jerks too. However, personally, I think stories like this that show acceptance are important too. LGBT+ people and relationships need to be normalized, and books like this can help that.

I thought the ending was a bit vague but again, that could just be me.

The parents are there and believable as well. The way Mattie feels about her parents also felt real. They are good parent relationships and Mattie does get annoyed with them just like teens do. I remember those feels.

There are plenty of good messages through-out the book. Friendships, acceptance, being yourself, the problematic aspects of Romeo and Juliet get called out by the kids, etc. There are many reasons to love this book.

From all the laughter, good feels, cute F/F crush, and nice messages I couldn't give this book a bad rating, but from being let down so much (personally) I couldn't exactly give it a high rating either. So I went with 3 stars. Maybe i'm over-reacting. Maybe it's just me. I have no idea, these are nothing more than my own thoughts and feelings. I do still believe this book is a step in the right direction. A book like this never would have been published (that I know of or at least not become well known) back 15 years ago. I hope this book does help some kid out there or to help some kids learn acceptance of people different than them.

Full Review also on my blog at http://wickedjr89sbookblog.blogspot.c...
Profile Image for Danika at The Lesbrary.
527 reviews1,336 followers
April 16, 2017
Super cute! And I think I understood Shakespeare more from reading this than from the university courses I took on it? So glad there's a) a bisexual middle grade/kids' book now and it's awesome and b) a middle grade/kids' book that has a girl who has a crush on a girl and it's awesome!

If you're wondering about the representation: I thought I heard that this book included the word "bisexual", but it didn't. Still, it was very clear that Mattie acknowledges that she has the capacity to have crushes on boys and girls. Also:
Profile Image for Marianne Moresco.
Author 1 book158 followers
May 20, 2018
This book was exactly what I wanted it to be. Cute, funny, clever, simple yet important. A children book yes, but it's perfect for every age.
We need more books like this one. The kids around the world need them.
Because I wish I had a book like this to read, back when I was 12.


I'm screaming this is everything I want. A lgbtqai+ middle grade with Shakespeare mixed in it OMG gimme gimme gimme
Profile Image for Marie.
551 reviews44 followers
March 24, 2017
This was an incredibly cute read. Sometimes I found myself eye-rolling at the... obnoxiousness of middle school drama but I'm sure I was that obnoxious in middle school, so I got over it.

I remember, when I was a... senior? Probably a senior, I couldn't figure out why I was so weirdly obsessed with this girl and I spent most of the homecoming dance orchestrating ways to walk past her and honestly I sympathize with Mattie so much with this inner realization of 'oh shit I'm not straight', and my friend was the one who told me what I was feeling. Eventually, seven years later I realized I was asexual but that's a different book.

"Just because I'm over Elijah doesn't mean I can't crush on a boy."

*dances* explicit, positive bisexual representation in a middle grade book? This is a thing of beauty.

The ending wasn't what I was expecting, not in the least, but now that I think about it, I think it's definitely better that way.

10 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Brooke.
284 reviews141 followers
November 19, 2017
While there ARE strengths to this book, I was left feeling underwhelmed by the turn of the last page. I'm not ashamed to admit I'm not the biggest Shakespeare fan to begin with, & I wasn't aware that so much of Star-Crossed's plot revolves around R&J. I realize the class was performing the play, but the entire play was discussed in length for the majority of the book. As someone past the intended audience that was way too much for me, so I can't imagine this will hold a MG's interest well if they don't care for the tragic tale of Romeo & Juliet either. Add onto the fact the book mainly centers around three things: the play, parties & Mattie's feelings towards Gemma, causing the plot to be a bit bland. There were times I was desperate to skim through, because I just didn't find Mattie's story to be captivating.

I love the fact that more & more LGBTQIAP+ books are becoming available for younger readers & that the plot doesn't solely focus on coming out, but I really wish there was more substance with this one. From what I understand, the author wrote this in a response to her own daughter's coming out, which is lovely, but I can't help but feel we would have gotten a more realistic approach if it came from a queer POV. The way Mattie describes her feelings for Gemma, as well as grappling with the fact that she can in fact still have crushes on boys (so thankful for no bi-phobia!), these feelings are dealt with on a more logical, surface level. We don't truly get the internal emotions, which isn't the author's fault. I love ally support & this is a true testament of a mother's love. However, I was once someone dying for a cover like this, with a MC who had similar feelings, & I can't help but feel I'd be let down by this. It's a good start, but it's not enough.

I did enjoy the interaction between Mattie & Gemma, as well as Mattie's older sister Cara & how supportive everyone was (wish it could always be like that). I also really appreciated the clear distinction that it's okay to have crushes on both boys & girls, without feeling pressured to have to pick a side. STAR-CROSSED can make for a decent conversation starter, but isn't one I'd recommend.
Profile Image for Abby Johnson.
3,373 reviews319 followers
April 14, 2017
Middle grade GLBT FTW!

At its heart, this is a story of an eighth grade girl dealing with first crushes and playing a role in the class play. It just so happens that one of those crushes is on a girl, Gemma the new student from England who is cast as Juliet in the class production of Romeo and Juliet. This is confusing for Mattie - does she like Gemma just a lot as a friend or is it more than that? Could Gemma feel the same way? What will her classmates and friends think? Does this mean Mattie's a lesbian? Can she still like boys, too?

All of these questions are explored in a middle-school-appropriate way. No action except a couple of kisses in the play, but Dee still manages to craft a swoony love story (remember how those middle school crushes felt?!). Mattie's friends and family are all supportive and positive as she starts to reveal her feelings, and there's a scene where Mattie's teacher calls out a kid for using "gay" as an insult, so it's a supportive class environment, too. This is maybe idealistic, but I was fine with that. Let's give kids and teachers some ideals to aspire to. And the story is not at all about Mattie dealing with fallout from coming out or anything, but a much more introspective look at having a first same-sex crush, which again felt realistic for the age of the characters.

I appreciated Dee's choice of having the class play be Romeo and Juliet - there are a lot of parallels here between Mattie's feelings and Romeo's feelings, which he thinks he can't share because of his family's rivalry. There are secrets and layers of trust in both stories.

Hand this to tweens who like reading love stories and/or tweens interested in theater.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Xan.
619 reviews274 followers
May 2, 2017
I am so glad this book is out in the world. I wish I had been able to read it when I was young. It is full of heart and so much fun, and I fell so hard for Mattie. I love how much it is about putting on the play! And Mattie's sister is made of awesome. A sweet and swoony crush filled story that warmed my heart and made me all verklempt. On the page bi rep that was lovely and felt exactly right. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Jen Petro-Roy.
Author 8 books347 followers
October 28, 2016
So good. Barbara Dee has such a great middle grade books and we so need more LGBTQ books for this age group. I can't wait to see Mattie and Evie, my main character, share the shelves!
Profile Image for Jenni Frencham.
1,284 reviews52 followers
March 22, 2017
Mattie is a bookworm, so she's very excited when her teacher chooses "Romeo and Juliet" as the play her grade will perform for the school. Through various mishaps Mattie ends up being cast as Romeo, starring alongside the very popular Gemma who is playing Juliet. Mattie is pretty sure she likes Gemma, really likes her, and is nervous about telling Gemma, her friends, and her family. Also, she has to KISS Gemma during the play!

This book is adorably sweet, as is appropriate for a middle grade / tween book. I have read a handful of books for this age group featuring LGBT parents, and a few books featuring transgender characters, but this is the first book I've read featuring a female tween character who is not heterosexual. I didn't call her a lesbian because Mattie states that she may still be attracted to boys; she's not sure yet. It's possible that future Mattie may define herself as lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, or something else entirely. As a tween book, though, it's more than fine that Mattie isn't sure what to call herself yet. And although Mattie definitely has a crush on Gemma, that's as far as it goes. They have to kiss during the play, and there are some friendly hugs exchanged, but this book is squeaky clean. Highly recommended.

Recommended for: tweens
Red Flags: minor bullying
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

Read-Alikes: Better Nate Than Ever, The Wednesday Wars, The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher
Profile Image for Molly Likovich.
Author 12 books193 followers
July 24, 2017
I REALLY wanted to like this book. I'm bisexual, I love Shakespeare, match made in heaven right? No. now don't get me wrong, this book had MANY strengths, but it just wasn't a 5 star read for me. Here's why: (PLOT SPOILER FREE)

there was actually so little discussion of Mattie's sexuality. Even her internal monologue was limited, and as someone who realized around the same age that I was the same way as Mattie, I found Mattie's internal thoughts to be bland, and not true to what it truly feels like to questions one's sexuality.

none of the characters were fleshed out. I really don't know what else to say except they were. There was the dumb cute boy, the loud girl, the mean girl, the foreign girl, the nerdy girl, but no substance to any of them.

it was plotless. Yes, Mattie realizes she's bi, yes they're doing Shakespeare in school, and that's about it. It felt like reading a really boring diary of an average middle schooler instead of a real story with a compelling narrative.

All that being said, I still think this book is VERY IMPORTANT. Young girls and boys need fiction like this, not only to make Shakespeare seem cool, but to make it clear that being queer is normal and acceptable and there's no reason to love yourself any less, or for anyone else to love you any less. However, this is no Harry Potter, this book is not a middle-grade novel that transcends age. I am 23, had I been 10 I might have liked it a smidge more, but honestly I can't even imagine 13-year-old me being that impressed with the weak prose, bland characters and lack of plot. I'm glad we have bisexual representation, and it is an adorable little read, it just wasn't good enough for me.
Profile Image for Alex.
667 reviews16 followers
June 8, 2017
Ahhhh! AHHHHHH! This was so enchanting! This was a book that took me squarely back to the feeling of being thirteen and discovering Shakespeare truly for the first time, how I immersed myself in my own class production of Romeo & Juliet with similar gusto, relating to the main characters because I too thought that I was swept up in the great romance of our time. (Spoiler: I wasn't. Nowhere near it.)

But this book is so charming--an eighth-grade girl who ends up realizing she has a crush on the girl who plays Juliet, who is beautiful and British. It's cute and--I hesitate to use the word "fluffy", but I loved this because it never felt like an "issues" novel. It's just that Mattie takes a little time to realize that she likes Gemma. And it's so, so nice to see this in a middle-grade work; usually this is relegated to YA (i.e. high-school aged characters); I know there are some queer MG works, but this is probably the first I've seen with a bi protagonist. It was the dose of happiness that I wanted it to be. And not just that--but, like, it's an actual good book, too. Dee does a wonderful job of capturing the exact spirit of what it's like to be in middle school. All the characters felt real and well-imagined.

If you need something bright, pick this one up. It'll restore some faith in humanity.
Profile Image for Mimi.
452 reviews110 followers
February 1, 2020
This definitely wasn't for me. I was so excited about a queer middle-grade novel but the characters just felt so bland and uninspired. Not to mention that it always seemed like the author "dumbed" things down for its readers which was so unnecessary. Mattie's friends were also interchangeable and just supportive when it aligned with their goals. Mattie herself would keep talking about their annoying traits. It just made the story feel cheap at times. Also, for a book that focuses on a theater production, it's hilarious how the actual opening night was over and done with in less than five sentences.
Profile Image for royaevereads.
306 reviews179 followers
September 2, 2018
I loved everything about this book, it was the sweetest. I loved all the Romeo and Juliet references, I loved the friendships and family dynamics, I loved the main character and her development (especially how she realises she’s kind of too closed off from other people at times, literally me), and most of all I loved that this was a middle grade novel with bisexual representation that was done incredibly well. This book would make the cutest movie.
Profile Image for Nicole Melleby.
Author 11 books217 followers
March 21, 2017
I want to write a well-thought out review, and I will soon, but right now I'm too emotional over this. This book would have changed the course of my life as a thirteen year old, and I am so happy that it exists.
Profile Image for Jasmine.
Author 1 book131 followers
March 9, 2018
Adorable middle grade romance AND theatre story AND discovering-what-you're-good-at-and-how-to-go-after-it story AND retelling of Romeo and Juliet. (Why do only one or two things with your story when you can do four?)
Profile Image for Alice, as in Wonderland.
121 reviews15 followers
February 6, 2017
I guess the big way to discover your identity right now in middle grade fiction is to be in a play. I don't know if I'd like this trend to go beyond this book - like, I understand the reasoning, but having read both George AND Gracefully Grayson last year, I guess I'm hoping that this isn't the only way we're ever going to talk about LGBTQ themes to the point of stereotyping.

That said, I'm really very glad this book was written. The thing about reading both George and Grayson last year (along with the publications of The Other Boy and Lily and Dunkin, is that middle grade fiction was finally starting to be more open about gender identity. In contrast, however, I was still seeing a lot of holes in gay representation. (Also, I mean, the trans thing rarely gets put in books as part of the world and not the main focus of the story but that's a rant for another day.) I can guess that this is for a lot of reasons. Trans is about identity; who you are. Being gay is about ~*~*~CRUSHESSSSS~*~*~*~ AND~*~*~KISSING~*~*~ AND ~*~*~*~SEX~*~*~. I mean who would have guessed, right? We call it sexuality. I could go into how most Disney films end with a man and a woman kissing, how awful can it be when it's two girls, and how one is a-ok and one is PROMOTING GAYNESS but I'm sure you're all getting my point here, it's just a long rant I've had since I discovered I probably wasn't totally straight.

And the book is really sweet. Not only is the romance itself really sweet, the book itself makes a lot of points about romance, and on some level even dismantles the Romeo and Juliet narrative, even while loving and more or less staying true to it. No one is "stupid" in the book, everyone has their reasons. Even the person who initially comes off as the jock idiot says some of the most insightful stuff about how narrow-minded the play is. And not all of it is even thrown away with a "BUT IT'S LOOOOVE" argument! Though Willow and her crew more or less stay one-dimensional, I can't say I minded. A lot of the book toed around my "I don't know whether I hate this because I remember what it's like to be 13 and now I have HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE PERSPECTIVE or a character is GENUINELY IRRITATING" lines, but it never crossed firmly enough to be actually irritating. Tessa especially bordered; the worst part being that I could totally imagine myself acting that way. But I didn't hate Tessa. She was annoying but never to a point of hatred - a balance not often achieved in children's books.

I also appreciated the book's depiction of different families. Mattie herself has a close relationship with her half-sister Cara, who isn't even called a "half-sister". Tessa's mother is divorced, if I remember correctly? And so it seems, is Gemma's family, if they're not just living separately for financial job reasons. None of it is treated in the book like "THE DIVORCED FAMILY" or anything, which was refreshing.

I was kind of holding out for Elijah to be gay for Liam, but I guess we can't have everything.

I think it'll be an important book. Maybe one day we'll get an interracial gay love drama in middle grade and showing it *gasp* ON THE COVER. Both racial diversity AND LGBT diversity????? WHAT'S NEXT, DISABILITY REPRESENTATION?????? MAYBE IN A BOOK THAT ISN'T ABOUT SOMEONE DEALING WITH THEIR MINORITY STATUS???????????????????????

I mean, yes, I'm bitter and I will always, unashamedly push for more and better, but the book was cute and it depicted its message really well.
Profile Image for Rebecca Tollingworth.
38 reviews4 followers
March 14, 2017

So, I loved the book. It's great having a young reader book about exploring/understanding your sexual orientation. Throughout the book, everybody was totally fine with Mattie having a crush on a girl. They acted like it was a perfectly normal thing (because it is). Her sister was really supportive, her best friend was really supportive. Everybody told her to go for it. She shouldn't be afraid. And this message is wonderful. To show young kids that it's okay to have "not straight" feelings.

One thing I didn't like was that they never once said "bisexual". Which is totally alright. Mattie still isn't sure what she likes. She says she could see herself having a crush on another boy at some point. So, maybe she's bi, pan, or actually gay, or even demisexual or something else. This is just the start of her exploration, so she doesn't have to identify as anything until she's comfortable and knows who she is (though, she also doesn't ever have to identify as anything if she doesn't want to).

The reason I didn't like them not using "bisexual" was because they're 8th graders. They've gotta know what bisexuality is. And if not, they have the internet. Mattie's always in her head, but I don't see her not doing research. Even a Google search like "I had a crush on a boy and now I have a crush on a girl. does this mean I'm gay???" She'd be sure to find out about bisexuality/pansexuality. But they never say it. It's implied, but I think it would've been good to have it actually said at some point, even if she doesn't choose to identify as bi. Like, just one of the supporting characters could have said something like "it's okay if you like boys AND girls. There's nothing wrong with being bisexual, Mattie". Just to have it out there that it's a possibility. To have the word said and known. It would mean a lot to the young queer readers. It could give them a name for their feelings and they could know bisexuality exists and is perfectly normal and beautiful.

Another thing I didn't like was the ending. It seemed rushed and anticlimactic. Yes, the girls seem to have just made a date for the future, but I would've loved to SEE them on said date, or at the very least, dance together. Again, it was implied. Implied that they like each other and would soon be dating, but I think it would've been awesome to actually see it. See them in a healthy, perfectly normal relationship. Even if it is "young love" and it's just them going to the diner for lunch or something. To see Mattie and Gemma "together" would've been a chance to see everyone's reactions. It would've been great to see Willow be okay with it, to see her support them. To see Elijah or Liam or even Ajay be totally cool with it. To have someone tell them congratulations. To say "you two are totally cute together" or "perfect for each other" or something. To have it shown that they are dating, and everyone is supportive and understanding and accepting, would've been even better for queer kids to read. To see the relationship as a realized, actual thing would give even more validation to the queer kids that it's okay and wonderful for them to be bi or pan or gay or whatever they choose to identify as.

Otherwise, I loved the story. I loved Mattie's slow realization of her feelings. How she had to be told about them from someone else. How evident it was that she really liked Gemma. I liked the parallels between Mattie's story and Romeo & Juliet (even though they make the play out to be this really romantic thing instead of a cautionary tale of rash/bad decisions involving "love"). I loved the Star Wars references. It showed that girls can like Star Wars too, it's not just "a guy thing".
Profile Image for Abi (The Knights Who Say Book).
633 reviews95 followers
December 9, 2017
What a great book! It took a little while for me to readjust to middle grade reading level, but the moment I got over the slightly rocky start I was hooked. Friendships that have realistic complications, addressing how parents can be hard to talk to but still giving the main character a guide in the form of her older sister, over dramatic middle school drama that charmingly parallels the plot of Romeo and Juliet while still having a happy ending, talking about how crushes and who you like changes and how that's ok, and a girl crushing on another girl!

Mattie's a sweet bookworm who suddenly finds her life full of secrets and complications when she starts crushing on the new girl while her grade begins to put on a drama — that is, drama as in a play, and drama as in drama. There are crashed costume parties, miscommunicated letters, kept secrets… and yes, that's both in R & J and in Mattie's life. Then Mattie has to step into the role of Romeo, opposite the girl who may or may not like her back, and keep her cool through on-stage nervousness and off-stage worries. Can she pull off both Shakespeare and middle school? Well, duh, yes, because if this had a bad ending it wouldn't have five stars from me. But read it anyway! It's fun!

This story was both positive and very relatable, re: confusion over Crush Feelings. There were some things I thought could have been better — for example, for a book where so much plot is focused on putting on a play, we see very little of the actual final performance. Maybe the stuff that happened on stage then wasn't very important plot-wise, but it would have been nice to have a little more page time about Mattie playing the role of her lifetime and being awesome at it!

There's also some spoilery stuff: Just a thought for an otherwise great book!

But anyway, this was a five star book in spite of a few complaints, because I just loved reading it.
Profile Image for Kellee Moye.
2,533 reviews278 followers
March 5, 2017
Full review with teaching tools: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/?p=1...

I really, really, really enjoyed this book. First, it made me like Shakespeare more than I did before. Second, I think that it dealt with sexual identity in a gentle and realistic manner.

I must admit that Shakespeare is a fear of mine because I just never have felt like I got him the way I should as an English Lit major and English teacher; however, it is what it is. When I see Shakespeare plays, I am always transported into the story and understand what all the hoopla is about, but reading it cold, I just never get it. I worried that a story about a middle school putting on Romeo and Juliet would let the Shakespeare bog it down, but it did the opposite–it helped this story be what it is. The reader learns to love Shakespeare as Mattie learns to love him. And since we are in class and at rehearsals with Mattie, we also get to be part of some of the lessons about the play thus helping the reader understand the text as well as Mattie is supposed to. It was brilliantly intertwined.

Mattie’s feelings toward Gemma are obvious to the reader before Mattie even realizes what they are, but that felt truly realistic to me because if you are someone who has already crushed on boys, feeling the same way towards a girl could be confusing, but Dee never makes it seem like what Mattie seems is anything but natural which is beautiful to see in a middle grade novel.
Profile Image for Jenna (Falling Letters).
667 reviews58 followers
June 29, 2017
Review originally published 29 June 2017 at Falling Letters.

Whoohoo, I finally get to review this book! I had it on hold at the library for sometime before it was released March 14. I felt like I had to wait agggeeees for it to come in. I would have bought it at Chapters but they didn’t have it in store. Anyway. I was able to enjoy the entire book last Sunday while I was out at the lake.

What I love most about Star-Crossed is that it doesn’t complicate Mattie’s feeling. Mattie recently had a crush on a boy, and now she has a crush on a girl. Some of her friends try to comment on that (Can you like boys and girls? Is she gay now?) but Mattie avoids any attempt to label herself. She’s only in grade eight, and all she knows for now is that she has a crush on a girl (and that doesn’t mean she can’t have a crush on a boy). I imagine at that age, when you’re just figuring things out, it’s not necessary to come away with a concrete definition of your sexual or romantic identity.

Mattie does fret a little about what her classmates may think of her. She wonders that while hypothetically her classmates aren’t homophobic, how would they react around a real girl who likes another real girl? The overall arc of the story is less about Mattie coming to terms with her feelings (she likes girls and boys, she knows that) and more about Mattie making her own decisions. The people she comes out to don’t make a big deal about it and are supportive. I cheered for Mattie at the end, which I thought was a perfect conclusion.

The story also feels very realistic and grounded in how Mattie’s crush develops and how she interacts with her friends and classmates. I thought the development of her crush on Gemma in particular was very cute. I recognize myself going through similar motions when I was in middle school!

How Dee incorporated Shakespeare both through the class play and classroom lessons also really impressed me. I actually just saw a production of Romeo and Juliet a few weeks ago, so the play was fresh in my mind. I remember studying the play in high school. My classmates had many similar reactions as Mattie’s classmates. Dee makes Shakespeare intriguing and fun, showing that his work doesn’t have to be indecipherable for young people.
Profile Image for Nora Baskin.
Author 22 books293 followers
March 26, 2017
My review is on the back of the book! ...my longer version: “I just put down Star-Crossed with a huge smile on my face and a tremendous lightness in my soul. This is an uplifting, fun story, with a backdrop of a theater production and discussions of Shakespeare, (c’mon, who better?) back and forth crushes, and confusion. Her characters stole my heart. Dee has written a story we want for all our children, and a reality that children’s literature like this can help make happen.”
Profile Image for  ➳ Anthony ➳.
347 reviews43 followers
September 12, 2023
Date Reviewed:
4 March 2017
This Review was first posted on It’s All Anthony. For more reviews, check out the blog here.

Thank You Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing and NetGalley for giving an eARC for an honest review.

I remember when I came across a post about this very book on Tumblr. Normally, I kept scrolling, but something caught my attention. It was the fact there was two girls on the cover dancing looking like Romeo & Juliet. I am not a major Shakespeare fan, but I definitely noticed it and read the post. The post was written by a daughter who came out to her mother, and her mother ended up writing a book, this book, in return. I was impressed as this was like the ultimate support someone could get. I reblogged the post immediately along with hundreds of others to get the word out. Next thing I knew, I found and was approved of the book on NetGalley. I couldn't wait to read about this amazing book I've heard.

Amazing is like the perfect word. Beyond amazing. As I read the story, I couldn't feel anything but happiness. Of course the main character faced challenges, but everything good that happened just resulted in happiness.

When Mattie first met Gemma and she started questioning what was happening to her and why as this happening to her. She tried figuring it out herself and dealing with herself, but she found that the only way she figure this out is through support of others. She talked to her friends and family, and support was all she got. This is how it should have gone, and I was glad to find it.

You also see Mattie deal with the everyday school life among students, frenemies, crushes, and ultimately, secrets. It was just a perfect book, and I just can't say anything wrong with it. Just perfect.

This book is definitely one for all ages, and for all kinds of love. Share it, recommend it, and love it. This book needs to be out there.
Profile Image for Claire.
798 reviews93 followers
April 11, 2017
Well, that was utterly adorable and just beautifully done. I was skeptical because the author identifies as straight, and there is just so *little* out there in terms of girl-crushing romcoms that I worried it wouldn't work. But it really, really did. The social pieces were great, especially the ways that the friends supported each other (but got stressed and hurt about secrets), and the ways that the interpersonal backstabby-drama wasn't life or death but felt like it a little. It didn't feel didactic or clunky at all. The balance of not-totally-depressing-vs-not-totally-utopian was perfectly done, I thought. It managed to be realistic and gentle and uplifting and message-y without ever falling into the manipulative emotional space of MG books like Wonder. Even the Shakespeare, while a little gimmicky, didn't feel pretentious or overly literary (this definitely wasn't trying to be The Wednesday Wars).

Other details that really worked for me - the sister and the mom! Like, of course that's how her sister reacted. ("Have you ever kissed a boy?" "No." "Too bad. Because kissing a girl works the same way." AWWWWWWW!) And of course Mattie's perspective on her mom's relationship with her much-older sister (and even herself) was skewed and incomplete. Delicately and sweetly done.

I'd recommend for your Smile and Drama readers, especially girls. I remember when Drama came out and there were a lot of convos about how gentle it was, did it have any appeal for teen readers, and a number of people pointed out that as ninth graders, they had been really *young*, and Drama was the perfect tone for them. Star-Crossed has a similar feel, and I can think of a whole, whole lot of tweens to rec this to. It gave me a happy afternoon and a satisfied book sigh.
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