Juliet's Nurse

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You all probably know the story of Romeo and Juliet, the characters made famous by William Shakespeare and assigned by high school literature teachers the world over. You might not know that there is more to their story. Juliet’s Nurse casts light on the star-crossed lovers by examining the plot from the point of view of Juliet’s wet-nurse Angelica. Angelica, with her sharp eyes and dry wit, provides the reader with a richly woven backstory that sweeps through the cobbled streets of Verona on the day of Juliet Capelletta’s birth.

Though in the end Juliet will meet her Romeo, the real love story in this book is not between young lovers but between woman and child. With Juliet’s parents distracted and her cousin Tybalt’s parents absent, Angelica fills the role of mother for the two Capelletti offspring. In this role as caretaker, she bears witness to the growing feud between the Capelletti and Monteche families as well as the blossoming of Juliet into adolescence.

Unfortunately for Angelica, her eagerness to help the child of her heart find love will help lead the girl into an untimely grave, struck dead by her own hand at the tender age of fourteen. Juliet’s Nurse would be a great companion piece for high school students who are studying Romeo and Juliet, though it should be noted that the first half of the book is stronger than the second (once the book picks up where Shakespeare begins his story, the language becomes more flowery and Elizabethan than previous chapters). The way Angelica describes Verona makes it feel like a living, breathing character rather than just a backdrop, and her side of the story will help lend context and color to the play and to the tragedy that befalls the young members of the feuding households. 384 pages   1476757445     Ages 14 and up

Recommended by Molly Crumbley, Librarian, Maryland, USA.

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