WEEK 2 PART 1, Romiette and Julio by Sharon M. Draper
Draper, S. M., (1999). Romiette and Julio. New York, NY: Antheneum Books for Young Readers.
This modern version of the classic story of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliette brings in current day issues such as gangs and interracial romances. Julio is the new kid in a Cincinnati high school after moving from Texas to get away from the gangs there. After a rough first day, he logs onto his chatroom to decompress, where he meets a girl that he seems to click with. Soon, Julio and this chatroom girl, Romiette, realize they share much in common, including the same high school! All is well, until one of the local gangs gets word of the interracial couple, and takes steps to break them apart. Although Roomette and Julio stand strong against these gang members, they end up finding themselves in more trouble than they could have dreamed.
Keywords: Gangs; High School; Hispanic Americans; African Americans; Romance
What I Think:
Like my first review of a book, this is another one that I would want to have in my library. This fun and modern twist on the classic is a fast-paced romance that quickly turns into a thriller. First of all, I liked this book for the depth of the content and the themes that flow through the book. This book follows an interracial romance that causes a huge stir in their school, simply because the two people are different. Not only do students at the school feel concerned about an interracial couple, but even Julio’s dad is weary of him dating an African American female as he says, “Julio, you’re not getting too involved with that girl are you? I don’t like it” (Draper, 1999, p. 114) He then goes on to say, “I have had a fear of black people since then, and what they can do. I will not allow you to develop a relationship with one of those people!” (p. 116). This idea of treating people differently because of their race or other differences pops up throughout the book and is a theme that can truly be pondered by the reader and discussed with others.
I also enjoyed this book because of the variety of types of text throughout. Each chapter has a different format. Some chapters are the traditional format of a fictional novel. Other chapters take different forms. For example, chapters two(p. 3) and eighteen(p. 69) are in the format of Romiette’s diary. Chapters seven(p. 28) and eight(p. 33) are in varying chat room formats. Other chapters can even be in the form of a TV newscast. “TV Six has been investigating the increase of gang actvity in our schools and our city” (p. 172) This variety in the chapters draws in the reader’s attention even further and gives the reader multiple perspectives of the story.
What the Experts Say:
Romiette and Julio by Sharon Draper is a modern-day take on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. We first meet Romiette Cappelle through her journal as she writes about her fear of drowning and her recurring nightmares. Julio Montague is a new student, angry at leaving Corpus Christi, Texas, for Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. The two are introduced through an online chat room where they quickly discover they have much in common, including their school. A local gang, the Devildogs, threatens the budding romance between Romiette, an African American girl, and Julio, a Hispanic boy. Together with their friends Ben and Destiny, the couple decide not to report the gang’s increasingly serious threats to the authorities or their parents. As a result they become caught in a horrifying chain of events, putting their lives at risk.
Zonnenberg, A. (2002). Romiette and Julio. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 45(7), 660-661.
In the classroom, I would use this book to spark discussions about the deep seeded issues and themes within. I recommend having students answer questions and talk with their peers on issues related to gangs, interracial romances, moving schools, or even simply the idea of treating people differently just because of their differences.
This book would also be great to incorporate into writing projects. Students could be encouraged to write their own version of the classic tale, Romeo and Juliette after reading both the Shakespeare version and Sharon Draper’s version. Students could also be prompted to take this book and re-write it into play format so that it could be acted out for the school or even just with a Reader’s Theater activity.