From School Library Journal
Grade 6-10-A contemporary retelling of the Romeo and Juliet story with a happy, upbeat ending. Sixteen-year-old Julio Montague's parents have moved their family to Cincinnati, OH, in order to get their son out of his gang-ridden high school in Corpus Christi, TX. Romiette Cappelle, also 16, is the daughter of successful African-American parents and the granddaughter of college professors. When these two young people, both from proud heritages, begin a romance, they must deal not only with their parents' prejudices but also with the threats of a local gang called The Family. At times, Romiette and Julio effectively parallels and contemporizes the original story. The young couple meet, not at the Capulets' feast, but in an Internet chat room. Julio's friend, Ben Olsen (read Benvolio), who looks like a punk rocker, has an optimistic and irreverent attitude that balances Julio's passion and volatility. At other times, the allusions to the play are obvious and heavy-handed. Nonetheless, this novel is more than simply a carefully plotted teenage romance. Draper gives a realistic portrayal of the interactions among high school students as well as their relationships with their parents. The book also examines how gangs can gain power and take control. All of the characters have unique voices and the writing style shifts according to the action. Romiette and Julio would be a wonderful curriculum tie-in book, but it also stands alone as a first-rate novel about contemporary teens.Jane Halsall, McHenry Public Library District, IL
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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When Romiette Capelle, aka Afroqueen, and Julio Montague, aka Spanishlover, meet in an Internet chat room, neither of them has any idea they both go to the same Cincinnati high school. Afroqueen is from a prominent African American family; Spanishlover is Hispanic and the new kid in town. When Romiette and Julio meet in person, they know they are fated to be together. In keeping with their Shakespearean counterparts, they are thwarted in love: a local gang, the Devildogs, is set on keeping Romiette away from the "foreigner." The dialogue (and there's lots of it) is jarring and stilted, and Romiette's father and some peripheral adult characters are overdone. But Draper has created Julio's parents and Romiette's mother with sensitivity and has given readers a pair of intriguing, unusual protagonists with the sort of real thoughts and feelings that will make this interracial story satisfying despite its stylistic problems. Holly Koelling
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