Mundie Moms

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

RONIT & JAMIL by Pamela L. Laskin / Book Review

By: Pamela L. Laskin

Published by: Katherine Tegen Books
To Be Released on: February 21st, 2017
Pre-Order from: Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads 
Rating: 4 Stars - I Enjoyed It
A copy of this book as provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review

Pamela L. Laskin’s beautiful and lyrical novel in verse delivers a fresh and captivating retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Julietthat transports the star-crossed lovers to the modern-day Israel-Palestine conflict.

Ronit, an Israeli girl, lives on one side of the fence. Jamil, a Palestinian boy, lives on the other side. Only miles apart but separated by generations of conflict—much more than just the concrete blockade between them. Their fathers, however, work in a distrusting but mutually beneficial business arrangement, a relationship that brings Ronit and Jamil together. And lightning strikes. The kind of lightning that transcends barrier fences, war, and hatred.

The teenage lovers fall desperately into the throes of forbidden love, one that would create an irreparable rift between their families if it were discovered. But a love this big can only be kept secret for so long. Ronit and Jamil must face the fateful choice to save their lives or their loves, as it may not be possible to save both.

This is a beautifully written book. I'm not a huge fan of verse, but I'm a fan of the way Laskin wrote this book. Poetic, diverse, sensual, complicated, and hopeful, this is a beautifully written, modern day Romeo and Juliet. 

Set in war torn Israel and Palestine, Ronit and Jamil's story is a forbidden love story, fueled by love, and hope for a better future, and riddled by a history of hate among their people. Separated by a border, and forbidden to cross it's side, Ronit, an Israeli, and Jamil, a Palestinian, begin a secret romance. One that if discovered, could have deadly consequences for the two. Unlike the traditional Romeo and Juliet retellings, this story has a very non-traditional ending. 

I really enjoyed the story being from the two points of views of both Ronit and Jamil. I loved their hope, and understood their fears. I admired their love for another, and their wishing things were different, so that they could openly be together. 

The diverse cultural setting was mesmorizing. I loved the way Laskin brought her setting to life, and the way she described everything. Especially when it came from the different sides with Ronit, and Jamil. From the sites, to the sounds, the fear of living on two opposing sides of a barrier that separates Ronit and Jamil's homes, and on going conflicts that are constantly going on around them. It definitely makes their relationship a challenge, especially since it's already a forbidden one. 

I liked the notes the author includes about her inspiration behind Ronit & Jamil, the setting, and why she gave their story a non-tradiontional ending. Which I loved. I also enjoyed learning about her research into this story, as well as the footnotes she includes on various pages through out the story. I also liked the fact that many of the pages are labeled, so you know who is talking. At least for much of the book. There are a few times it is confusing on who's point of view the story is told from. 

What I admired about Laskin's writing, she says best herself at the end of her book, "In a world of feuding national and ideological viewpoints, and territorial claims, this narrative renews itself with heartbreaking regularity and brings collective trauma to the painfully detailed, individual level again and again as a story."

This book is definitely one worth picking up, especially with the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth, and for any creative writing class. 

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