A contemporary retelling of the Romeo and Juliet story with a happy, upbeat ending. Sixteen-year-old Julio Montague's parents have moved their family to Cincinnati, OH, in order to get their son out of his gang-ridden high school in Corpus Christi, TX. Romiette Cappelle, also 16, is the daughter of successful African American parents and the granddaughter of college professors. When these two young people, both from proud heritages, begin a romance, they must deal not only with their parents' prejudices but also with the threats of a local gang called The Family.
At times, Romiette and Julio effectively parallels and contemporizes the original story. The young couple meet, not at the Capulets' feast, but in an Internet chat room. Julio's friend, Ben Olsen (read Benvolio), who looks like a punk rocker, has an optimistic and irreverent attitude that balances Julio's passion and volatility.
This novel is more than simply a carefully plotted teenage romance. Draper gives a realistic portrayal of the interactions among high school students as well as their relationships with their parents. The book also examines how gangs can gain power and take control. All of the characters have unique voices and the writing style shifts according to the action. Romiette and Julio would be a wonderful curriculum tie-in book, but it also stands alone as a first-rate novel about contemporary teens.
School Library Journal September 1999
Julio Montague hates Cincinnati. It is cold, wet, and gray, nothing like his home town of Corpus Christi, Texas. Being the new kid is hard until he makes friends with Ben Then he meets Romiette in a chat room on the Internet and he is in love. Romiette Cappelle is a typical sixteen-year-old girl who is looking for that special boy. She believes she has found him when she meets Julio online and finds out that they both go to the same school. Unfortunately, the local gang objects to Romiette and Julio's interracial relationship and continually hassles them. Eventually the gang kidnaps them and sets them adrift on a lake in a violent storm. The similarities of their names and situation to Romeo and Juliet is suggested by many as the community looks for them. However, their story has a happy ending because they are found alive, the gang is arrested, and they are soul mates forever.
Draper has captured the voices of teens; the dialogue and the students' attitudes about the gang situation are believable. The convincing exchanges between the characters and the descriptions move the plot, while the action keeps the reader in suspense. The title and cover will attract mostly girls interested in romance, but if others read the first few chapters, they will find gripping romantic adventure sure to keep them turning pages until the end.
- ALA Best Book Award
- International Reading Association as a 2000 Notable Book for a Global Society
- Best Books for the Teen Age--2000--New York City Library
- Young Hoosier Book Award--2005
- Broward Teen Readers' Choice Award--2005