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Falling for Hamlet Hardcover – July 5, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Inventive and brazen... Everything here is engaging... There is much for modern girls to love in Falling for Hamlet... it's the original girl story, about boys and love."—The New York Times Book Review

"[Falling for Hamlet] might even win Shakespeare a few new fans. Recommended."—Library Media Conection

"To read or not to read will never be the question for Falling for Hamlet. Michelle Ray's clever debut gives readers an Ophelia who is in turns humorous, clever, and full of girl power. I'm simply mad for this book!"—Elizabeth Eulberg, author of Prom & Prejudice and The Lonely Hearts Club

"Sexy and searing, Falling for Hamlet is much more than a riveting retelling of a Shakespearean classic. Michelle Ray has crafted an artful story of a girl who comes unapologetically and forcefully into her own."—Justina Chen, author of North of Beautiful

About the Author

Michelle Ray is a graduate of Tufts University where she majored in drama with a focus on theater history and literature. For the last twelve years she has taught English to elementary and middle-schoolers, and is currently an English and Reading teacher in a middle school magnet program for the humanities. This is her first novel.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Poppy; 1 edition (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316101621
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316101622
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Michelle Ray loves killing people . . . in her books. This would worry her a bit, but Shakespeare's body count outpaced hers significantly. A confident "theater geek", she also loves to read YA books, to hang out with her friends, her kids and her husband, to teach cool things to her middle school students, and to go to the movies. Most surprising in her life so far was having FALLING FOR HAMLET optioned for TV and end up "inspiring" THE ROYALS, E!'s first scripted drama. Michelle grew up in LA, moved to Boston then New York, and now lives near Washington, DC. She visits NYC whenever she can.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C. Ancrile on June 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book will make even the most non Shakespeare lover want to re-read/watch Hamlet. However, it is a wonderful book all on its own for all readers. The poignant story of the young girl dating the celebrity hits home on so many levels. The truth all of our mothers wanted us to learn - "Don't lose yourself for any man." I highly recommend for all young adult readers and for all Shakespeare lovers and everyone in between. A great book for mothers and daughters to read together. THIS BOOK NEEDS TO BE A MOVIE! Congratulations Michelle Ray on your debut book. Can hardly wait to read the next one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By onepagereviews on September 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
If I had to choose one word to describe this book it would be "intense." Of course, with Shakespeare's "Hamlet" being the basis for this story, how could it be anything else?

I've got to be honest - I've never actually read this particular Shakespeare play. I know the general plot twists (king killed, Hamlet sees ghost, everyone dies, etc.), but I was still surprised by a few of them when I read this version. I'm not sure if I would have compared Michelle Ray's version to the original more if I had actually read the original, but I thought she did a good job with this adaptation, staying true to the story with the one main exception: Ophelia doesn't die mid-book like in the play.

There was a lot of playing with form in this book - the story is told through Ophelia's POV, as well as snippets from her police interrogation and a talk show she appears on after everything in the book takes place. That really added tension, I think. I loved the three different timelines!

The actual character of Ophelia was a little troubling at times. I just couldn't understand why she would stick with Hamlet after all the things he does. I mean, he's straight crazy. I get that she loves him, but I just had to shake my head a lot when she would go running back to him. The plot wouldn't have held up without their interaction, though, so I guess Ophelia's idiocy was necessary to keep things moving.

Pacing, however, was a general problem throughout the novel, I thought. The first 200 pages or so are really slow. There are a few scenes that were poignant or moving, but overall, they're pretty dry. I was never really invested in the story or the characters until tragedy hits Ophelia close to home (around page 250).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Maggie Knapp on June 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A modern day retelling of Hamlet, from Ophelia's point of view. Seems to me this would work best for readers who are already familiar with the story. For readers unfamiliar with the traditional Hamlet, I think much of the depth and subtlety of this story would be overlooked. The author is faithful to the elements of Shakespeare's tale, but some of the updates seems forced. Denmark Department of Investigations? Phee wailing "You killed my dad?" Denmark State as a safety school? Claudius referred to as "The Claw"? But the idea of Ophelia, Hamlet and Laertes texting one another amid the swirling matters of court and under the eye of watchful paparazzi is definitely a concept worth exploring. A solid four stars and it will be interesting to see what Michelle Ray comes out with next. For fans of Hamlet, check out another interesting modern retelling: John Marsden's HAMLET.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rachael Stein VINE VOICE on January 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Ophelia never meant for things to get so out of hand, but maybe that's just what happens when you're a girl in her position: Prince Hamlet of Denmark's girlfriend. As the daughter of an important member of the royal staff, Ophelia grew up in the castle alongside Hamlet, though it wasn't until more recent years that their close friendship turned into something more. Ophelia would be the first to admit that dating royalty is tough. Not only are they followed around by the paparazzi everywhere they go, but Ophelia has to deal with all of Hamlet's family drama in addition to her own as well as all the other types of unwanted attention garnered by Hamlet's fame. Ophelia thinks she is willing to put up with all of this for the sake of her relationship, but she doesn't take into account how things could go so quickly from bad to worse. When Hamlet's father dies under mysterious circumstances and his mother quickly remarries his uncle, of all people, Hamlet descends into a sort of madness, taking an unsuspecting Ophelia with him. Hamlet's had the chance to tell his story, but now it's Ophelia's turn--and she'll reveal what really happened.

I love all manner of retellings, whether they are only loosely based on the original story or follow it quite closely. Ray's debut novel Falling for Hamlet is of the latter example and sticks quite close to the original plot of Shakespeare's Hamlet, though in a more modern setting and with a few embellishments and twists. I was primarily interested in this story because I wanted to see the story from Ophelia's perspective; she is a rather perplexing character in the original play, and I know I'm certainly not the only reader who has wondered if there's more to her story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Khy on January 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Its eponymous hero might be overly angsty and annoyingly passive, but of the Shakespeare I've read, Hamlet is at the top of my list of favorites. I also love the play's spin-offs (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is flawless), so it was with great excitement that I jumped into this book. I feel it would be more appreciated by those who have read the source material, but it's still a fun and clever story that does a great job of rewriting Ophelia into someone tolerable and even admirable.

Because this is a rather faithful adaptation, it was initially strange getting used to there being all these bizarrely named characters in regular high school. It was also strange to think that modern Denmark would have a royal family with such large say in the government, but despite my qualms about this setting, I enjoyed the retelling. Because Ophelia is so often offstage in the original play, there are plenty of new scenes and thoughts in her narration; I loved getting her perspective on things that didn't get much time in the play itself, such as Ophelia's relationship with Queen Gertrude. Their relationship was all kinds of manipulative and complex, and seeing Ophelia deal with Gertrude's overbearing nature while also handling her father's instructions, Hamlet's insanity, and her friends (who aren't in the original play) was a consistently dramatic and entertaining tale.

I assume it would be hard to write about characters you didn't create yourself, but if it is difficult, it didn't seem that way in this book. Each character managed to move beyond the personalities provided in Hamlet, but not always in a way I liked one hundred percent.
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