Monday, August 30, 2010
The Total Tragedy of a Girl named Hamlet by Erin Dionne
I've had this book sitting on my shelf for a while. After having a class of mostly boys last year, I didn't read too many "girly" type books. This one definitely falls into that category.
Hamlet Kennedy is just starting grade 8- it is suppose to be her best year yet. She has a group of great friends- she isn't in the popular group- but that is OK with her. Hamlet just wants to blend in with the crowd. At home, her parents have an over-the-top passion with all things Shakespeare, and it is just too much for Hamlet. Then, there is her younger sister- Desdemona. Dezzie is gifted- at age 7 she is academically ready for college, but socially not quite. Hamlet feels that at home her parent's total focus is on Dezzie, but that is OK with her too. She becomes very good at hiding anything that would make her stand out.
The start of grade 8 brings whole new changes for Hamlet. Her sister is being enrolled in her grade and it will be Hamlet's job to escort her from class to class. When Dezzie becomes the math tutor for grade 8's- it becomes a bit too much for Hamlet to take. Then, the first day of school, her mother arrives at school in full on Shakespearian clothes. Everything about her demands attention, which is exactly what Hamlet is trying to avoid. With the start of the year like this, Hamlet worries that the rest of the year will only get worse. Add in a mysterious person leaving pigs in her locker, a rift between her and her best friend, the study of Shakespeare in both English and History, and two popular girls who have befriended Dezzie- Hamlet has a grade 8 year she will never forget.
I really enjoyed reading this book. I cringed along with Hamlet when her mother showed up at school- I can't imagine anything worse for kids in grade 8. The conflict Hamlet feels about her sister is very interesting too. While Hamlet wants to protect her sister, she also feels like she is losing herself and her own freedom. I think many girls would like and relate to this book. There is also lots to talk about throughout the story.