Release Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Rating: YA 14+
Genre: Romance, Adaption, Contemporary
**A copy was provided by Simon Pulse for review purposes (thank you so, so much!)**
Romeo and Juliet is often misinterpreted as the world's best, or most well-known love story, and it is, to some extent, but first and foremost, it's a tragedy. Serle reminds us of that in this mesmerizing adaptation of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. This book completely changed the way I look at Romeo and Juliet. Serle introduced so many new ideas and ways of looking at things that I had never really seen at all, and I completely bought into it, one hundred percent! Even if you're not a fan of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, still give this a go. You won't regret it.
Before reading this I (mistakenly) thought that Serle was just 'rewriting' Shakespeare's story completely, but that's SO not the case. What she actually does is breathe life into the magnificent story, and she makes it young again, so that us, the readers, can relive the beauty, magic, love and heartbreak of this time-old classic. I felt so many emotions while reading this novel it was ridiculous. I started feeling so protective over my favorite characters, and also such strong and powerful sensations towards the ones that I didn't like.
When You Were Mine doesn't really focus one Romeo and Juliet, but on Rosaline. You remember her, right? She was there before Juliet came and snatched away Romeo, and she was Romeo's first love. Rosaline is the main character in this book, and she has been in love with Rob (Romeo), her childhood friend and next-door neighbor since forever. They know each other inside out, their families are close friends, and as of recently, Rob has started showing an interest in being with her. It's meant to be, isn't it?? Destiny, fate, love. That's what Rosaline thinks.
But then, Juliet, Rosaline's cousin moves into town. Juliet, who used to be Rosaline's best friend when they were in pre-school. Juliet who also stopped being her friend for some reason after her family moved away. Juliet, whose parents hate Rob and Rosaline's parents, and whose families share a long history full of betrayals and blood. Still, when Juilet comes back, a part of Rosaline tells her to give her another chance. They were best friends once upon a time, after all, weren't they? So, Rosaline, being the friendly, open-minded, sweet character, (the type of character I love), tries to let her in to her group of friends. The 'popular people'. And Juliet is nicer to Rosaline than she has been ever since the move, and she seems to be really trying to mend their friendship. That, plus the fact that Rob just asked Rosaline to be his girlfriend, makes Rosaline giddy with happiness.
So, when Juliet asks Rosaline if she can 'borrow' Rob for the school dance, because she doesn't know anyone else, and also because Rosaline and her two best friends, Charlie and Olivia were planning to go to another party, sure Rosaline feels a little uncomfortable, but she can't find a reason to say no, especially when Juliet is finally showing some interest in rekindling their friendship. She can't think one night would matter that much. But, as Serle shows us, all it takes is one magical, horribly beautiful night, to change everything. Now, Rob is with Juliet, and Rosaline is left completely heartbroken.
You guys, I knew that Rob was going to get with Juliet, but I was still completely shocked and totally heartbroken (although no where even close to how heartbroken Rosaline was) when it happened. Because, Rob seemed like such a sweet guy!! He was polite, shy, cute, and really sweet!! I completely blame Juliet. From the very moment Rosaline began describing her cousin, I knew I was going to dislike her. But I never knew how deeply I would despise her!! As soon as she walked into the room (came into the story), I was like, seething mad. She totally ticked me off! And I really liked Rosaline as a character, so when Juliet treated her like shit, I actually swore out loud. And, I never swear. EVER. Only when, like, I'm really mad. :P
And I didn't expect to hate Juliet so much, because in Shakespeare's version, I always thought of her as helpless, and innocent, and madly in love. But in Serle's version, she knows exactly what she's doing, and she's vicious and deadly. Some characters I really liked were Charlie and Olivia, Rosaline's best friends. Charlie is strong, and a little bit bossy, but she's always there when you need her. Olivia is a little clueless sometimes, but she always sticks up for her friends, and she doesn't really care about what anyone thinks. I wish they were my friends!! And also, Len. Oh god, I love him!! Rob, or no Rob, after Len batted his long lashes at me, I was like 'Rob... Rob who??' LOL. :)
After reading When You Were Mine I just sat on my bed and stared out my window, not really seeing anything. Serle made me relive all of the beautiful moments of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, also adding in some amazing moments herself, that actually made me understand and appreciate the sadness, beauty, and love of an already amazing story more than I did before. I devoured this book in one sitting, and, even though I was left so close to bawling like a baby after I finished it, I'm not at all sorry. Because it was a good type of sadness, if you know what I mean. I look forward to reading more of Serle's work, and when her next book comes out, I will most definitely be there, front of the cue!!!
If you like this, try:
Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle
Meant To Be by Lauren Morrill
While He Was Away by Karen Shreck
Summer Of My German Soldier by Bette Greene