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01 November 2012

Quick Check: The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne

Product Details 
FINALLY!  I've been staring at this book on my TBR pile for over a year but have just never had a chance to read it.  There has always been something---another book for review, a book for Virginia Reader's Choice, a book that I just had to read RIGHT THEN.  

Summary and image from Amazon:
All Hamlet Kennedy wants is to be a normal eighth grader. But with parents like hers - Shakespearean scholars who actually dress in Elizabethan regalia . . . in public! - it's not that easy. As if they weren't strange enough, her genius seven-year-old sister will be attending her middle school, and is named the new math tutor. Then, when the Shakespeare Project is announced, Hamlet reveals herself to be an amazing actress. Even though she wants to be average, Hamlet can no longer hide from the fact that she- like her family - is anything but ordinary.

This was a really quick and cute read.  It took me a solid evening and then about an hour of the next night.   

I really loved Desdemona.  I pictured her as a mini Sheldon or Amy Farrah Fowler from The Big Bang Theory.  Just super smart, but totally clueless in how to actually interact with people.

You could look at this and think, "Well that's just another book about a middle schooler being embarrassed by life."  And you'd be wrong.  Well, you'd be right, because she is embarrassed by her life, but its just one thing on top of another for this poor gal that makes it different and instantly likeable.  I mean, its bad enough she's in 8th grade (barf), but she has that name, her little sister is a super-genius and starting to go to school with her, her parents dress (and act) like they belong at medieval times, she's failing math, and then boys.  Poor kid just can't catch a break!  

I liked how everything came together in the end.  Yes, Desdemona might outshine Hamlet academically, but Hamlet finally learns that she has something special, and something worth standing out over.  

All in all, a good book.  If I taught middle school, I'd have no problem with this in my classroom.  Even though Hamlet is in 8th grade, the situations and feelings are universal and many kids could sympathize.  


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