Jubilee has it all together. She’s an elite cellist, and when she’s not working in her stepmom’s indie comic shop, she’s prepping for the biggest audition of her life. Ridley is barely holding it together. His parents own the biggest comic-store chain in the country, and Ridley can’t stop disappointing them–that is, when they’re even paying attention. They meet one fateful night at a comic convention prom, and the two can’t help falling for each other. Too bad their parents are at each other’s throats every chance they get, making a relationship between them nearly impossible . . . unless they manage to keep it a secret. Then again, the feud between their families may be the least of their problems. As Ridley’s anxiety spirals, Jubilee tries to help but finds her focus torn between her fast-approaching audition and their intensifying relationship. What if love can’t conquer all? What if each of them needs more than the other can give?
I can’t lie, I’m a sucker for Shakespeare rewrites, and I’m a sucker for Romeo and Juliet – but it rarely hits the mark, really. This book, though! I had a blast listening to the audiobook! The voice actors really embody the characters, and Ridley especially. The poor kid has panic attacks and the writer and actor both did a wonderful job portraying that.
There’s a lot in this story about mental health, and family abuse and what it does to you, so it comes with trigger warnings – but the writer really did justice to the topic, showing how it’s really overwhelming sometimes and how those dynamics eat at you – but also how there are roads to recovery and ways to build support systems even if you think there aren’t.
It’s also really, really funny and geeky in the best of ways, and it’s a love letter to independent comicbook stores, and to queer kids. Most of the cast is queer in some way, including the main f/m relationship – which is very unusual and as a bi girl I found it really refreshing. It does a good job of portraying the anxiety that comes with navigating relationship as a bi/pan/… person too, but remains very positive on that front. I don’t normally read contemporary YA, but I absolutely loved this one and would absolutely recommend it!
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[…] Verona Comics, Jennifer Dugan. My other Shakespeare adaptation highlight of the year, absolutely brilliant. Full review here! […]