When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads: In this intensely romantic, modern recounting of the greatest love story ever told, Romeo’s original intended—Juliet’s cousin Rosaline—tells her side of the tale. What’s in a name, Shakespeare? I’ll tell you: Everything. Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy...and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance. Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends….
First impression: Retelling of Romeo and Juliet but from rich school girl perspective. Kind of a yawned with the designer names and teenage angst. Who is going out with whom, lost her virginity and who is hot. Double yawn. I read Romeo and Juliet, remember 10 Things I Hate About You and a hundred other retellings of the tragedy. This time the protagonist is Rosaline, the one Romeo was supposed to be with.
As I Read: I had to admit that it was a clever approach. Rosaline and Juliet are cousins who are estranged for reasons Rose doesn't know. Rose is just starting a romantic relationship with her oldest friend, Rob, when Juliet returns. Sounds classic mean girl/shallow high school rivalry. The more I read, the more I appreciated the underlining message. First of all, on a basic level, who has not been Rosaline? Who has not felt the heartbreak of watching the guy you love slow dance with someone else or some such scenario?
The story departs from Romeo and Juliet and real issues are addressed. Not that a broken heart is not a real issue because it is but the author explores difficult issues like fate and choice. Grief and forgiveness. Living life or being a victim of circumstance.
Verdict: In the end, I found it to bear a resemblance to R & J but was different, deeper, and much more relevant.