Tuesday, March 16, 2010

17. The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet - Erin Dionne

for: middle grades (the protagonist is in the 8th grade)
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2010
HC $16.99
292 pgs.
Rating: 3.5

Hamlet Kennedy begins 8th grade with an added humiliation to her usual humiliations - her 7 year-old sister, Desdemona will be attending classes with her. A tiny genius with over-the-top vocabulary, Dezzie will supplement her college-level classes with art and music and "socialization."

Ham has spent her whole life in a very odd family, trying to fit in as a "normal" person when in her outside world. Her parents are Shakesperian professors who have chosen to live the life - dressing and eating and even speaking as if they were still living in the early 1600's. Hamlet's mother doesn't even allow contractions! Of course some of the kids tease her about her name, but now they must find out about her sister -- and because the English and history teachers have chosen to present A Midsummer Night's Dream, Hamlet's parents are invited to class. The final humiliation comes when she discovers she has a natural ability to recite Shakespeare beautifully. It's the last thing she wants. Something else to draw attention to her, a girl who wants to fit in and be normal.

Well, Ham will never be able to be normal - that is, average - coming from this family. Her parents are so clueless it's scary. And the "mean girls" are so stereotypical that you understand them and where they're coming from long before some of the other characters, who weren't so easily understood. Ham's best friend is a boy, but there's not enough background information to really, truly, understand their relationship, especially when Ham is told that Ty "likes" her. Okay, so what am I trying to say here? It's a good story. Different, in many ways. Some of the characterization is shaky, some is right-on. It's slow in places, but fun, especially if the reader knows even the tiniest bit about Shakespeare. I'll be interested to hear how kids like it.

Here are a few other reviews:
The Cooke Agency (literary agents - this is the first time I've seen a review from that venue!)
Becky's Book Reviews
Kids Read

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