Seventeen-year-old Mimi Wallingford, of the Broadway Wallingfords, has a life most girls can only dream of—complete with the starring role in her family’s production of Romeo and Juliet. But acting is not her dream, and she’s fighting for the right to trade her script for a scalpel and become a doctor.
Fourteen-year-old Juliet Capulet, of the Verona Capulets, has lived a lonely life—imprisoned by the feud that consumes her family and by her iron-fisted mother’s forcing her into an unwanted marriage. She will do anything to avoid her betrothed, even if it requires faking a boil on her bottom—or something more dangerous.
During the play’s final performance, Mimi’s wish to get away actually comes true when she and her heartthrob costar, Troy Summer, are magically transported into Shakespeare’s Verona. Now that she knows the real Juliet, Mimi doesn’t want to stand by and allow the play to reach its tragic end. But if saving her new friend means changing the ending of the greatest love story of all time, will she and Troy ever make it back to Broadway?
Reviews and Accolades
-- Original manuscript added to the Ted Hipple Collection of Young Adult LIterature at University of Southern Florida
-- A 2010 International Reading Association Young Adult Choice
-- Named a March 2008 Teen Girl Reads title.
-- A selected title of AARP's "Books for Grandparents."
-- Favorite Teen Book List, Palm Beach County Libraries, Florida
-- Summer Book Pick, Springfield Greene County Libraries, Missouri
-- Included in Bank Street College's 100th anniversary edition of The Best Children's Books of the Year list.
-- An ALA/2010 Popular Paperback for Young Adults
"Selfors injects an angst-ridden 17-year-old Manhattan actress into Shakespeare's star-crossed romance, yielding hilarious and often very clever results. Mimi loathes her role as Juliet, but she feels pressured to continue acting in order to save her family's theater. When she is magically transported into Shakespeare's play, she instantly connects with Juliet, who is being pressured to marry Paris to save her family's name, and she becomes determined to give Juliet a “happy ending.” There are plenty of twists as Mimi meddles with Shakespeare's characters (she begins a romance with smooth-talking Benvolio, for example). The author even plays off traditional plot points, providing original versions of the infamous balcony scene and the potion that mimics death. Readers will have fun with the characters, from a womanizing teen heartthrob who inadvertently travels back with Mimi (and reworks a pop song with Mercutio) to a spirited Juliet, who starts a rumor about a boil on her bottom to try to discourage Paris. Mimi herself is an honest, savvy narrator; she relates much of Shakespeare's plot to readers, and occasionally addresses them directly (e.g., “Turn the page for the grand finale”). The book ends a bit quickly, but after so much drama, readers will welcome the neat, happy conclusion."
-- Publisher's Weekly, starred review
"What at first seems to be another you-don't-really-want-to-be-a-star plot breaks out into an almost-historical, almost time-travel fantasy surrounding Romeo and Juliet. Mimi doesn't want to be the scion of her acting family, propping up their fabled New York theater. She runs from her last performance as Juliet and finds herself in an odd version of 1594 Verona, accompanied by her insufferable pop-star leading man, Troy. Selfors uses the fantasy to illustrate the backstory to Romeo and Juliet, complete with feuding families and the filth of the times. Mimi decides to save Juliet from her fate, but her interference in Shakespeare's plot causes unexpected events and plenty of real danger for both Mimi and Troy. Most of the characters from the original appear, allowing Selfors to introduce her audience to the play, much like Caroline Cooney did for Macbeth with Enter Three Witches. Absorbing, exciting and useful for teachers too."
-- Kirkus Reviews
"...the dialogue is lively, and fans of other contemporary Shakespeare retellings, such as Sharon Draper's Romiette and Julio, may enjoy this."
"This above all: to thine own self be true. -Shakespeare. This was the underlying theme in this excellent story about growing up. It is very gratifying to have another story based on the classic Shakespeare story. I loved the way that the author headed each chapter with a quote from Shakespeare which applied to the chapter and the story line. I really enjoyed this book, and if I was a ninth-grade teacher I would have my class read this after we studied Romeo and Juliet; but, alas, I am only a fifth-grade teacher!"
-- Marta Morrison, Teensreadtoo.com
"I liked that Selfors knows Romeo and Juliet inside and out; it gives her the ability to seamlessly both include and diverge from it. I liked that both Romeo and Juliet were fleshed out, growing beyond their usual roles of doomed star-crossed lovers. I liked the roles Mimi played, from damsel in distress, to love-struck herself, to, finally, a confident young woman who knows what she wants, and feels like she can achieve it. But mostly, it's a very cute love story, a fun historical adventure, a smart homage to one of the greatest playwrights the English language has produced. Which just left a smile on my face."
"Mimi Wallingford is a high school senior living under the burden of a family legacy-she is the great-granddaughter of Adelaide Wallingford, matriarch of an acting dynasty. Mimi wants to move in other directions, but her mother insists that Mimi persist in carrying on the family tradition and keep their eponymous theater afloat. Mimi is so stressed out that she has begun having panic attacks, impeding her ability to perform the title role in their theater's current run of Romeo and Juliet. It is during one of these panic attacks that Mimi is magically transported to sixteenth century Verona, into the midst of the Capulet/Montague feud, and takes it upon herself to free Juliet from her horrible mother and her forced wedding to Paris. Also transported is Mimi's loathsome leading man, a teen pop idol. Romance and suspense ensue, and all's well that ends well, both for Mimi's life and for Juliet's. Selfors combines a number of successful conventions of young adult literature-controll ing mothers, arrogant boy with a heart of gold-to end up with a fun romp. The ending is a little pat-Mimi's mother comes around way too suddenly-but it will certainly satisfy readers. The book will appeal to fans of historical fiction, time travel, adventure, and love stories. It also spans a large age range; "twelve and up" really does apply here. The clever cover will make this one jump off displays, and it will be easy to booktalk."
-- Alice F. Stern, VOYA Journal
"I would order this tomorrow for my junior high/high school library...LOVED THIS BOOK!"
-- The Book Moot
"Selfors has managed to combine the struggles of one teens life and the story of Romeo and Juliet in one fabulous book. This is a story in Shakespearean proportions."
-- New Rockford Public Library
"Saving Juliet is one of those books I couldn't put down. I couldn't sleep without knowing how it ended, because it was so brilliantly played out."
-- The Reading Girl
Inspiration for the Novel
At age 14 I was cast as Mercutio in a summer stock production of Romeo & Juliet. Yes, that's me in the tights and beard. Aside from the fact that I had to memorize two very long monologues, I loved every minute of it. I learned how to stagefight and, best of all, I got stabbed in the heart every night and died onstage. I milked that death scene for as long as I could, groaning and gasping until my final line: A plague on both your houses. They have made worm's meat of me!
At the time, I just happened to be the same age as the Bard's young lovers. I've no doubt that that experience is why Romeo & Juliet has always been my favorite Shakespearean play."
Letters from Readers
Release Date: February 2008
Published by Walker Books for Young Readers/Bloomsbury
Available at all major online bookstores.
For an autographed copy, contact Eagle Harbor Books.