Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin | Book Review

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.

Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin | Book ReviewRonit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin
Published by HarperCollins on February 21st 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, People & Places, Middle East, Novels in Verse, Family
Pages: 192
Format: Hardcover, eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 9780062458551

Pamela L. Laskin’s beautiful and lyrical novel in verse delivers a fresh and captivating retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that transports the star-crossed lovers to the modern-day Israel-Palestine conflict.
Ronit, an Israeli girl, lives on one side of the fence. Jamil, a Palestinian boy, lives on the other side. Only miles apart but separated by generations of conflict—much more than just the concrete blockade between them. Their fathers, however, work in a distrusting but mutually beneficial business arrangement, a relationship that brings Ronit and Jamil together. And lightning strikes. The kind of lightning that transcends barrier fences, war, and hatred.
The teenage lovers fall desperately into the throes of forbidden love, one that would create an irreparable rift between their families if it were discovered. But a love this big can only be kept secret for so long. Ronit and Jamil must face the fateful choice to save their lives or their loves, as it may not be possible to save both.

Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin is a really cool idea for a book in concept. However, I felt like the execution of the actual concept left a little bit to be desired. Yet, despite the cons, this is actually a pretty fast read. I mean, if you’re a fan of Shakespeare and YA and books set in the Gaza strip as well as verse books, you will probably like this one better than I did. Actually, I hope you do.

Essentially, Ronit & Jamil is a retelling of Romeo & Juliet, but set in the Gaza strip. One teen is Palestinian. The other teen is Israeli. The two meet due to their dads being in similar lines of work – the medical profession. One dad is a doctor, the other is a pharmacist. They have some crossover. Ronit and Jamil begin a secret relationship carried out via text and clandestine meeting. Eventually, they come up with a plan to be together for real – but with a bit of a twist on the ending of Romeo and Juliet.

So, Ronit is an Israeli girl and as mentioned, she has been accompanying her dad on calls. She is smart and seems pretty capable. She does find herself very attracted to Jamil when she crosses paths with him. Jamil is the Palestinian boy. He also comes across as pretty smart, but also cares about his family too. Both Ronit and Jamil have a ton of similarities and it is easy to see why they like each other. Their different poems do mirror each other as well.

Overall, this is an okay read, but not about to become a favorite. I do see value in this book. However, I don’t know that it necessarily feels authentic. I am almost positive that this is not an ownvoices book at all. In googling the author, she’s an American, not an Israeli or Palestinian. I sort of wonder what this book would have been like if it was written by someone who has the nationality of one of the lead characters. Maybe I would have felt more invested or cared more, who is to say?

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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.

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