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 tellyou: 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…
This month we read author Rebecca Serle‘s debut novel. Our good friend Tammy at YA Crush recommended it, and since she has impeccable taste in books, we figured it would make an ideal Book Club selection. And she was right, because it was exactly the kind of funny, well-written high-school romance that we could all take to heart. All of us, young and not-quite-as-young, thought Serle’s depiction of the star-crossed lovers from the perspective of Romeo’s (or should we say Rob’s) first love was genuinely inspired. Do yourselves a favor and pick up this book; it makes for a perfect summer read.
Many thanks to Simon & Schuster for providing our contributors with review copies; Scroll to the bottom for your chance to win one of a copy of the book!
“Young” Reader Average: A-
Tapanga graded the book an A:
This is a modern day story of Romeo and Juliet with a twist. Rosaline aka Rose is the main character. Her and Rob have been best friends for years. Senior year is finally here and Rose is hoping that Rob will finally take her on a date and kiss her like she had been hoping for. When Rob finally asks her out on a date, it is perfect and they even have the perfect kiss that Rose was hoping for, but it soon all falls apart when her cousin Juliet moves back into town and steals Rob from her.
So far senior year is not going the way Rose planned, she lost Rob, and on top of that she is partners with Len in Bio. The one person that she can’t stand is Len, but when Rose’s grade in Bio goes down a lot she has to volunteer to help out with the school play for extra credit because the Bio teacher just so happens to be the Director as well. Rose ends up working on lighting with no other than, Len. After spending all that time with Len could her feelings possible change towards him? But what is happening with Rob? You are going to have to read the book to know what happens.
I would rate this book an A. It was amazing. I loved it. It was funny because when I got the book we had just started to read “Romeo and Juliet” in English class.
Wendy graded the book an A-:
I’m not the biggest fan of straight-up romance books, but I thought this was such a fun, well-written story about a girl so busy being in love with her best friend and doing what her best friends say that she doesn’t realize there are other worthy people (and guys) right there in front of her. Even though I’m nothing like Rose and her friends, I see how that plays out all the time — you have a close circle and don’t really move beyond it, whether you’re the most popular group in school or not.
I’m still not sure what made Romeo dump Rosaline for Juliet so fast, but in the end, I was glad she found someone else who could really appreciate her.
“Adult” Reader Average: B+
Jenn graded the book an A-:
Even before I knew this going to be our May Book Club pick, I had wanted to read “When You Were Mine.” I really like books that examine alternate points of view of a commonly known story, and WYWM is a modern retelling of “Romeo and Juliet” from the perspective of Rosaline, the first girl Romeo fell in love with.
I immediately liked Rosaline. Most of the time, her friends, Charlie and Olivia, are shallow and mean, especially to those not inside their small circle of friends, but Rose is so kind. I think that makes what happens to her especially heartbreaking. Even though you know the entire time where the story is headed, you can’t help but root for Rosaline. I still remember exactly what it was like to be on the verge of something with a guy, having all those expectations and hopes, and then having it all crash down on me because he chose another girl instead of me. My heart broke for Rose as she watched Rob, the boy she had loved and trusted since childhood, ditch her for her cousin.
My one criticism is that I wished at times that Rose had been rounded out a little more. We know she’s had a lifelong dream of going to Stanford, but we don’t really know what she wants to study there. I wanted to know more about what made her tick. Throughout much of the book she doesn’t seem to care about much besides Rob. Still, I could empathize with her, and that’s ultimately what made me love this book.
Cara graded the book a B+:
A modern day retelling of the Romeo and Juliet tale, told from the perspective of the jilted Rosaline. Only now it’s Rosie, Rob and Juliet. There is the requisite familial chasm and all the teenage snarking and bickering you’d expect from a group of hormonally charged adolescents.
I really liked Rosie. Probably because I’ve been Rosie on an occasion or twelve. Falling for someone who seems to fall for you only to have them fall for someone else. And the anguish and hope and betrayal and depression that goes along with that experience. I loved the relationships Rosie had with her two best girl friends and the surprise love interest she developed.
For the most part I enjoyed this book, but I felt the back story lacked substance. It felt like the author didn’t really focus on the plausibility of the rift, only that it is there to set the stage for the current scenario. For such rational, down to earth people as Rosie’s parents seemed to be, their past behavior and complete dismissal of her father’s only brother seems surprising and out of character. Furthermore, the entire book paints Juliet’s family as a bunch of crazies, with Juliet as the most vindictive and hateful of the bunch. We did get a glimpse of a more rational and humane Juliet at the end but by then the die is cast and we all know how it turns out for her.I think this book would have been more enjoyable if the author had veered away from villain stereotypes (cheating politician! spoiled rich girl!) and introduced believably flawed characters who did bad things.
Diana graded the book a B+
In the book “When You Were Mine” Rebecca Serle gives us a fresh way to think about the story of Romeo and Juliet. The romance is what everyone focuses on, but what about the woman that Romeo was supposed to see that famous night? In “When You Were Mine” we see the effects of love when it takes an unexpected turn.
Main character Rose believed that her relationship with Rob, her childhood friend, was finally turning into something else. Sadly, when her cousin Juliet moves back to town, Rob and Juliet feel an immediate connection with each other, leaving Rose alone. That’s when the story focuses on friendship. Rose has two best friends that are both flawed, yet they are also good, supportive friends. Charlie is actually difficult to like for most of the book, but proves to be a loyal friend. Olivia is more likeable, but she is not always easy to relate to. The best thing about both of them is the way they truly love each other and are there for one another.
The book deals with love, friendship, and family. That’s what makes it enjoyable.
In “When You Were Mine,” Rosaline is sure that Rob is the only boy for her. Years of friendship finally culminate in her dreams coming true when they go on their first date. Kissing him is everything she ever imagined it would be.Then Juliet comes along (sound familiar?).Blinded by an attraction that seems to come out of left field, Rob turns his attentions away from Rosaline to Juliet. Rosaline must come to terms with the idea that there could possibly be someone else out there who is better suited for her than her beloved Rob.
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