Review of The Total Tragedy of A Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review of The Total Tragedy of A Girl Named Hamlet by Erin DionneThe Total Tragedy Of A Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne
Published by Penguin on 2010-01-07
Genres: Family, Fiction, Humorous Stories, Middle Grade, Parents, Siblings
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

All Hamlet Kennedy wants is to be a normal eighth grader. But with parents like hers - Shakespearean scholars who actually dress in Elizabethan regalia . . . in public! - it's not that easy. As if they weren't strange enough, her genius seven-year-old sister will be attending her middle school, and is named the new math tutor. Then, when the Shakespeare Project is announced, Hamlet reveals herself to be an amazing actress. Even though she wants to be average, Hamlet can no longer hide from the fact that she- like her family - is anything but ordinary.

Middle school is awesome. I saw a tweet/link/blog post — something internets related the other day which asked is Middle Grade Fiction The New YA. While I see MG fiction as being awesome, I also see it as being of a completely different sphere than YA, yes both types of books are targeted at non-adult readers, but MG is definitely for the tweens. Now, this certainly does not put a damper on my enjoyment of middle grade fiction, as an adult I certainly enjoy what I’ve read in the MG genre. The Total Tragedy of A Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne is something I could see crossing over from MG territory into YA territory, although the protagonist is an 8th grader, she’s utterly charming and someone I find relatable, plus The Total Tragedy of A Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionneisn’t dumbed down, never once did I find it to be condescending towards me, the reader.

The Total Tragedy of A Girl Named Hamlet centers around, you guessed it, a girl named Hamlet. Basically she has a weird name, her parents are Shakespeare freaks, they actually walk around in Renaissance era garb. Oh, and her seven year old sister, Desdemonda is a genius and will be joining Hamlet in the 8th grade. ANGST! Ah, this book brought me back to eighth grade where I was embarrassed by things a lot stupider than what Hamlet deals with. I remember hating my name (April) because it was a month and not something normal like Jessica or Sarah. There were no cool nicknames my name could be shortened to either. Also, I remember dealing with mean kids and being embarrassed over not having the right clothes, or the right hair. Funny, how you grow up and that stuff just seems so insignificant but in eighth grade, well that’s your world. And yes, I did occasionally find my family to be embarrassing. My mom would wear things in public which had me shaking my head. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, but self-consciousness was a huge issue. It’s also something Hamlet had to deal with, as she had heaps of humiliation to combat.

Hamlet deals with mean girls, sibling rivalry, a crush, and school woes. Yep. Middle school. I wish I had had The Total Tragedy of A Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionneto read back then instead of Sabrina The Teenage Witch novelizations. One of the strengths of The Total Tragedy of A Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionnelies in its portrayal of family relationships. Hamlet’s parents aren’t perfect. They often pick her sister over her. They don’t get “it.” However, at the end of the day they just want the best for their kid. They weren’t invisible players in the storyline, which I enjoyed, as in a lot of the books I read, I hardly ever get to meet the parents.

I would definitely recommend The Total Tragedy of A Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionneto the middle schoolers I have interacted with, as this book is witty, charming, and a ball of self-discovery. Plus, I want to read some of ‘ol Shakes work because of the heavy influence within the story.

Disclosure: I am reviewing this book as part of 1 ARC Tours.

Other reviews of The Total Tragedy of A Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne:

A Reader’s Adventure

I read this as part of the In The Middle Reading Challenge

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Christina/Book Addict says

    Great review. This sounds like a wonderful book. I think my middle school students would love it! I'll have to put this one on my TBR pile!

  2. Miel Abeille says

    If I were to venture into Middle Grade lit, I think this book would be a worthwhile read. Thanks for your review! Hamlet sounds like a quirky character.

  3. I'm always looking for good books that hark back the Bard. Thanks for the review – it's going in the TBR stack!

  4. robby (once upon a book blog/fourteen years) says

    Middle Grade books always sound so great but I just can't get in to them. I never really could, even when I was in middle school.
    For some kids, it's great.
    This book sounds so cute! :]

  5. I want this! It sounds like a complete delight. I haven't read that much MG fiction, but I'm open to anything 🙂


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