Friday, May 4, 2012

The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet

The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet
Erin Dionne
$6.99, Paperback
Puffin, 2011
January 17th, 2012

Genre: School Story, Humor
Age: 8+
Description: Hamlet just wants to be an average eighth grader but her family makes it impossible. Not one but both of her parents are Shakespeare-obsessed scholars and her seven-year-old genius sister, Dezzie, decides she needs more social interaction with peers so she’s enrolling in Hamlet’s class! If that wasn’t bad enough, Hamlet’s sister becomes a math tutor for her crush, the Evil Twins (Saber and Mauri) befriend Dezzie to use her, and the eighth grade class project this year will be a joint English/history Shakespeare project—headed by Hamlet’s parents! Can her life get any worse?
Opinion: This is a light, fun read. Readers will love Hamlet and begin to see their families aren’t nearly as weird or embarrassing. Hamlet has a lot to deal with—her sister being smarter than her, her parents ignoring what she wants for Dezzie’s needs, the evil twins of the school who use Dezzie for this own advantage who is too socially na├»ve to see it, a best friend who might be in love with her but she doesn’t return his feelings, and a person who is leaving origami pigs in her locker—as a joke or a potential crush? The plot moves at a decent pace. One understands Hamlet’s frustrations with Dezzie and trying to convince her that the Evil Twins are just using her, her frustration at Dezzie when it turns out art is not as easy for her as everything else in her life is (Hamlet—“Not everyone is perfect at everything!”), and her feelings of inadequacy and being ignored by her parents in lieu of Dezzie and her accomplishments. One aspect that made me infuriatingly mad was the English teacher who basically threatened Hamlet into a speaking role in the Shakespeare play because she has a natural talent even though Hamlet didn’t want to do it. The teacher’s comments were basic threats and if I were her parent I’d be having some not-so-nice words with the teacher about her attitude. At times though, Hamlet does get a little repetitive and whiny about certain things, such as Dezzie’s new friends and her embarrassment of her family.

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