Katherine Tegen Books

February 2017

$34.99 AU

186p hc

ISBN: 978-0062458544

Ronit & Jamil

Pamela L. Laskin

from HarperCollins...

Pamela L. Laskin’s beautiful and lyrical novel in verse delivers a fresh and captivating retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that 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.

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Set in modern day Gaza, this book parallels Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet and even includes lines from this famous play. The two leads, an Israeli teen girl, Ronit and a Muslim Palestinian teen boy, Jamil meet through their fathers’ work. Ronit’s father is a pharmacist and Jamil’s is a doctor and when helping their father’s they catch sight of each other and fall in love…but they have to keep it secret as both are forbidden to even talk to each other, such is the mistrust between the two families. The book covers their attempts at meeting and overcoming the obstacles in their path – family, prejudice, politics, society.

This book was an interesting if difficult read. Mainly because it was often hard to ascertain which character each poem was about, and I found I had to stop and start many times as the voices were often quite similar. (Even if this was deliberate it would be useful to have a symbol or something to show which character was ‘speaking’). The book showed that despite the family’s mistrust of ‘the other side’ there were in fact many similarities between the households. The book was inspired by the authors visit to Israel and the occupied territories and brings a message of peace and hope. For readers aged 13+.

Stephen, Canberra

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