Romiette &
Julio

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Romiette and Julio
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Intro, Summary & General Questions

Summary:
When Romiette Cappelle and her best friend Destiny, decide to order The Scientific Soul Mate System from the back of the Heavy Hunks magazine, they're not sure what they're getting into. But Destiny, a self-proclaimed psychic, assure Romi that for $44.99 plus shipping and handling, it's the only way they're ever going to find out who their soul mates really are. If nothing else, maybe Romi will get some insight into that recurring dream she's been having about fire and water.

But they are never expect that the scented candle and tube of dream ointment will live up to their promises and merge Romiette's destiny with Julio Montague, a boy she's just met in the "cosmos" of an International chat room. It turns out they go to the same high school, not to mention having almost the same names as Shakespeare's famous lovers! Sweet-scented dreams of Julio have almost overtaken Romi's nightmares...

......when suddenly they return , but this time in real life. It seems the Devildogs, a local gang, violently oppose the relationship of Romiette and Julio. Soon they find themselves haunted by the purple-clad shadows of the gang, and the fire and water of Romiette's dream merge in ways more terrifying-and ultimately more affirming- than even Destiny could have foreseen.

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Reviews & Rewards

Reviews:
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.
VOYA

Awards:
  • 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
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Study Guides





Additional Study Guide

Discussion Topics
  1. Romiette and Julio begins with a dream sequence. How is this effective in building suspense and introducing the main character?

  2. How does this method affect the reader's response? What predictions can the reader make about Romiette?

  3. Chapter two is written as a diary. As you first meet Jericho, how is he like many young people today? How is he different? What seem to be his biggest insecurities? His greatest strengths?

  4. Describe the relationship between the Romiette and Destiny. Why are they so close? How are they alike and how are they different?

  5. Why do you think the character of Destiny was given that name? What aspects of her personality and her actions make that name appropriate?

  6. What do you know of Thomas Jefferson High School from the descriptions given in the text? How would you describe the building itself, the teachers, the students, the administration, the "feel" of the school? How does it compare to high schools in your community? Why is a high school a good location to discuss serious teenage issues?

  7. What does Julio think of his new school and why? How does it compare to his old school? What are the positives and negatives of each school?

  8. How do you feel about Ben? Would he be a good friend to have? Does his physical appearance influence your viewpoint? Why or why not?

  9. Julio meets Romiette on the Internet. Trace the development of their online relationship. What is dangerous about such a relationship? How can websites such as myspace and other like it cause a danger to teenagers? Why are computers so important in the lives of young people?

  10. Julio had no say in the decision to move from Texas to Ohio. How can a move like that affect the life of a teenager? How do you think the move affected some of the decisions Julio made in the story?

  11. Describe the relationship between Julio and his parents. His relationship with his mother than the relationship with his father. Explain why. What had happened in his father's past to affect his attitudes? How did the strength of Julio's family make a difference in his life?

  12. Describe the negative instances of prejudice and unfairness that Julio faces at his new school? Why do you think people treat each other this way?

  13. Describe the relationship between the friends in the book. Is friendship enough when situations become monumental and overwhelming to young people? Explain.

  14. Describe the escalating confrontations between Julio the Devildogs. How could events have turned out differently? What would you have done in the same situation?

  15. What were your predictions about Destiny and the Secret Soulmate package? What about Romiette and her efforts to find her true love? Do you believe there is a way to predict the future or affect one's destiny? Explain.

  16. Discuss the character of Malaka and her relationship with Romiette and the gang. Does she have any redeeming qualities or is she purely a negative character? What might have made Malaka the person she is? Why do you think people become aligned with gangs?

  17. Several times in the novel, the similarity of Romiette and Julio's names with the title characters in Shakespeare's play, Romeo and Juliet is noted. How else are Romiette and Julio and Romeo and Juliet's lives similar? What other characters are similar? Explain how.

  18. Discuss the role of Nannette in the story. What is her purpose?

  19. Compare and contrast the parents as the search is conducted for their children. How are the two mothers similar or different? How are the two fathers similar or different?

  20. What do you think about the end of the story? What would have been the effect on the novel if Romiette and Julio had died like their counterparts in the Shakespeare story? Which is more memorable and more powerful in a novel--tragedy or happiness? Explain.

  21. What might both adults and teens have accomplished if they had worked together and believed each other? What lessons might have been learned from the gang?

  22. Visualize the next ten years for Romiette, Julio, Ben, and Destiny. Create a scene in which they meet at a ten-year reunion. What will have happened to them and why?

Activities and Research
  1. You are a reporter at one of the following scenes. Write the story for your newspaper.
    • The search for Romiette and Julio
    • The trial of the Devildogs and Malaka
    • The school board meeting as they discuss gangs in the school


  2. Investigate teen Internet sites. What are there advantages, disadvantages, and dangers?

  3. Investigate current problems with gangs in high schools. What can be done about them? How can young people be discouraged from joining a gang?

  4. Investigate peer pressure. How can teenagers effectively cope with peer pressure?

  5. Write a letter to one of the characters in the book explaining your feelings about the events in the story. What advice would you give Destiny, or Ben, or Julio's parents? What would you say to Romiette?

  6. In diary form, write the life of Ben Olsen for several months. Include details about how he views life.

  7. Police officers play an important role in the lives of the students in this book--some positively, and others negatively. Discuss the role of a policeman in the lives of teenagers. Consider a career as a police officer. Find out how much college education is needed, how many years of study it takes, and what is required to have that occupation.

  8. Investigate the job of newspaper reporters and the roles they play in the community.

    Investigate all the possible occupations associated with creating a television news show--producing, directing, writing, managing, etc.


ADDITIONAL WRITING ACTIVITIES

  1. COMPARISON PAPER "She's a jewel in a pile of rocks. She's like chocolate cake for dinner--and I love chocolate!"
    "My goodness. She's got you talking poetry!"
    "Oh yes, Mama. The shape of her fingers, the curve of her back, the tilt of her head--all make me dizzy. I even like the sound of her voice--a little low and full of secrets. If she could put that voice of hers in a bottle and sell it, she'd be rich!"

    Write a paper that uses unusual comparisons to make your point. By using comparisons, the things you describe should be clearly illuminated to your reader.

  2. DESCRIPTIVE PAPER "She struggled, searching for air, for land, for something to hold onto. But there was only the water, pulling her into its depths. She couldn't breathe. She couldn't swim. She couldn't even scream. The water filled her, seared her thoughts, and she drifted slowly into unconsciousness. The fire cooled, the terror ebbed, and the dark shadow of death embraced her."

    Write a descriptive paper that uses sensory imagery. Use vivid verbs and powerful adjectives and adverbs as you write. Use as many of the senses as you can. (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste)

  3. NARRATIVE PAPER "I know. Destiny, did you ever catch the Fantastic Five?"
    "Once I got close. I wished on 1:11, then I caught 2:22. At 3:33, I was in the bathroom, but I remembered just in time and caught it and wished before it clicked over to 3:34. Then I just sat by the clock until 4:44. I knew I had it. I wished the same wish every time."

    Write a narrative paper that talks about what you would wish for if you caught the "Fantastic Five" or what might happen if an imaginary character was able to do so.

  4. EXPOSITORY PAPER "I'm terrified of water. I took swimming when I was little like everyone else, but I never learned. That's not exactly true. I learned how to swim, I just never got the nerve to let go. I know how to do rhythmic breathing, proper arm strokes. the flutter kick--all of that, but I just can't get away from the side of the pool. When I'm in the middle with nothing to hold onto, I panic. There's just nothing solid--nothing to grasp. The water slips through my hands and I flounder, then I start to sink, then I scream, then, of course, I get embarrassed. So I go to the pool, but I stay on the side, or splash with the little kids in the shallow end so their parents can go swim in the deep water. Even walking by the deep end makes me feel ill."

    Write an expository (explanatory) paper on learning to swim or the fear of drowning.

  5. PERSUASIVE PAPER "Yeah, so what's your point?"
    "He's Hispanic."
    "So?"
    "And I'm Black."
    "So?"
    "Neither one of us noticed."
    "Good, that's the way the world ought to be." Destiny had her own sense of world order.

    Write a persuasive paper that argues the following point. "Racial or ethnic barriers should make no difference when it comes to romantic relationships." OR "Racial or ethnic barriers should be seriously considered when it comes to romantic relationships." You may agree or disagree with the statement, but you may only argue one side of the issue.

  6. CHARACTER SKETCH
    Write a character sketch of Ben--what made him unique--his personality, his charm, his love of life. Use specifics from the book to illustrate your points.

  7. POETRY
    Write a poem about one of the following topics: (or a similar topic)
    • The Two of Us are Different
    • True Love
    • Strange Friends
    • Fear and Terror
    • Storm at Midnight
    • Misunderstanding