Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee
12-year-old Mattie is thrilled when her 8th grade class mounts a production of "Romeo and Juliet" but things get complicated when the handsome boy in the leading role ducks out of the play...leaving Mattie to play the part of Romeo, opposite the beautiful Gemma as Juliet.
Gemma, whom Mattie...likes. Like, a lot.
Mattie has a lot of questions about her crush on Gemma, and nobody around her gives her the answers.
However, several people--including her best friends, her older sister, a sympathetic teacher, and even Gemma herself--allow Mattie the freedom to explore some answers for herself. That is what makes this gentle little story so nice.
I learned about this book when the author wrote about a terrible experience booktalking in a school where she was asked to refer to the book only in general terms. In other words: avoid talking about the book. Even when asked direct questions about it.
As often happens, censoring a book sometimes inspires people to seek that book out.
That's how it worked with me, anyhow.
Having read the book, I've got to say:
It's a great book. And I plan to talk about it. A lot. In schools. To students.
With positive reviews from School Library Journal and Kirkus as well as the sexy librarians here at Sex in the Library, you know that although "Romeo and Juliet" was a tragedy, Star Crossed definitely isn't.
Highly recommended for middle-grade readers, ages 10 and up.