The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper - Book Review

Mention the name William Shakespeare and you will conjure many things to many people. But to a teen, one of the first thoughts will be Romeo and Juliet. This is why educators begin units on Shakespeare with that very play. The nature of the beast lends itself well to a hormonally raging mindset.

The Juliet Club is no exception to this rule: Six teens (3 Americans - 3 Italians) embark on a summer seminar concerning The Bard. Each brings a unique desire, motivation or pain to the summer. However, their story evolves more like A Midsummer Night’s Dream than Romeo and Juliet.

Ms. Harper does an excellent job getting the feel of a Shakespearean play; with characters entering and exiting in chapters she’s labeled as scenes. This is endearing, but all the comings and goings hurt the development of character that is standard to the novel form. By mixing the forms, she improves the character development of a typical play, but decreases the character development of a typical novel. Character development is my only qualm as the action pace is good and the dialogue believable. While it could be argued that the ending is a bit tidy, I found this consistent with the romantic theme of the story.

The Juliet Club would be a great jumping off point for beginning a unit on Shakespeare or before reading either Romeo and Juliet or A Midsummer Night’s Dream. While I believe the novel is more attuned to the female mindset, I feel that it could warrant male interest also. It’s interesting to note that there is a real Juliet Club where people send letters to Juliet in Verona, the home of Shakespeare's play. This might be something an educator could use as a writing assignment.

Recommended for those who enjoy Shakespeare, Italian Culture, Romance and for educators wishing for segue into Shakespearean dramas.


Genre: Realistic Fiction. Age: Young Adult. Pages: 416.

Themes: Romance, Foreign Setting, Freindship

Publisher: Greenwillow Books. Date: May 2008.
ISBN-10: 0061366919 / ISBN-13: 978-0061366918

Buy The Juliet Club Here

Novel description from Harper Collins

Interview with author Suzanne Harper

Visit Suzanne Collins' website where you'll find all sorts of Shakespeare information links, videos to learn Italian and more information on The Juliet Club.

Click over to author Cynthia Leitich Smith's blog, Cynsations for another interview with Suzanne Harper Here.

From Harper Collins: "Suzanne Harper is the author of The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney. She has also written four nonfiction books, numerous newspaper and magazine articles, and several plays. She earned degrees in English and journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and a master's degree in writing from the University of Southern California. As part of her research for The Juliet Club, she studied Shakespeare, stage sword fighting, Elizabethan dance, and Italian. She also visited Juliet's House in Verona, Italy, and spoke to volunteers at the real-life Juliet Club. Suzanne Harper lives in New York City."
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