Friday, March 17, 2006

Romeo and Juliet - Together (And Alive!) At Last

Book: Romeo and Juliet - Together (and Alive!) At Last
Author: Avi
Published: 1987

Pete Saltz is desperately in love with Anabell Stackpoole. Indications are good that she reciprocates, but they're both too shy to do anything about it. What's a best bud to do? If you're Ed Sitrow, you cook up a plot to put on "Romeo and Juliet," casting Saltz as Romeo and Stackpoole as Juliet. After all, if they play the most famous couple in history, they're going to have to at least look at each other, right?

But the path to true love never did run smooth. Although the entire eighth grade gets in on it, Ed's slight case of overconfidence means that they have two weeks to rehearse, no teacher help, a borrowed set and costumes (borrowed from where? Well might you ask), and by the way, doesn't anybody know how to work those stupid curtains? Boy, does Saltz ever owe him one.

Being an English geek, I really took to this story, especially the hilarious mangling of Shakespearean language ("O, lemon table day!") in their disaster-riddled performance. It's not deep lit-chra-chure, but it's light and hilarious and strangely touching in the depiction of first love and middle-school friendship. Read it for a sweet, diverting, and roll-on-the-floor funny couple of hours.

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