Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne

total tragedy I really enjoyed reading this book!  It’s hard to imagine a situation more embarrassing than the one Hamlet Kennedy has to face as she’s starting 8th grade.  First of all there’s her name.  Then there’s the fact that not only are her parents Shakespearean scholars at the local college, they also dress in Shakespearean clothing (complete with capes with bells in her mother’s case, and tights in her father’s) and speak only Shakespearean English (no contractions allowed).  These are things that Hamlet has dealt with her whole life, although heading into 8th grade they seem a little worse than when she was younger.  The thing that really pushes the envelope is that Hamlet’s younger sister, Desdemona, who is a certifiable genius at the age of 7 (IQ over 200), will only be allowed to enter college if she takes arts classes for credit at the local middle school.  That’s right, the same middle school where Hamlet goes.  Luckily Hamlet has a really great circle of friends who already know all about her strange home life.  Unluckily there are a couple of mean girls who quickly decide to make Desdemona their pet so they can cheat from her.  One of the things I like about the book is that the author avoids turning Hamlet into an angry character who refuses to acknowledge her family in public.  Even when she is pretty angry at the way Desdemona is acting, she feels too much sympathy for her as a really out-of-place under-aged kid at school to really take it out on her.  By the end, Hamlet and Desdemona team up to get revenge on the mean girls.  Review by Stacy Church

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