RONIT & JAMIL by Pamela L. Laskin is a Lyrical novel in verse. It’s a fresh retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet where the star-crossed lovers are in modern-day Israel and Palestine stuck in the middle of their countries conflict.
There were a lot of reasons I picked up this book: the cover art is beautiful, the idea of a modern Romeo & Juliet, and I’m a sucker for star-crossed love – end of story. While the poetry is beautiful at times, it does come across very middle grade. I’m not sure who the audience is supposed to be, but it feels young. Truth be told, wasn’t Juliet 12? So maybe that is the intent.
I thought it was interesting that the verses almost seemed to mirror on her side and his throughout the book. They each have individual lives, on either border of Israel and Palestine, but they are so similar. Even the day to day is similar. I could be off base here, but it felt like the author was trying to convey that despite their differences, these countries are more alike than they maybe would like to admit. So for that reason, I thought it was beautiful rendition. I don’t know that the audience as a whole would appreciate the themes in this book, and for that, I’m a little sad.