Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet (MG)

The Total Tragedy of A Girl Named Hamlet. Erin Dionne. 2010. [January 2010] Penguin. 304 pages.

I hadn't figured out a way to stop time, join the circus, or make myself invisible. I hadn't been able to contract a serious (but not life-threatening) illness, change my identity, or get into the witness protection program. I hadn't even been able to talk my mother into staying home or waiting in the car.
Instead I had to follow Mom--dressed like an Elizabethan-era superhero with purple velvet cloak billowing and bells a'tinkling--down the hall. I had to escort my sister to the main office. I had to act like this was normal.
I had to start eighth grade.

What a great beginning! What an introduction to the quirky humor. Hamlet Kennedy hates her life. Well, hates the direction her life is taking. Her sister, Desdemona, at only 7, is joining her in eighth grade. Only for half a day. But still, half a day or whole day, this just means trouble for Hamlet. She'll have to walk her sister to and from classes. She'll have to be a good big sister and watch out for her. Why couldn't her sister be normal? Why couldn't her parents be normal?

Hamlet Kennedy feels she doesn't belong. Not at home with her oh-so-embarrassing parents. Parents who are obsessed with Shakespeare. Who dress in Elizabethan clothes. Who refuse to talk like they're from this century. Who lecture her for using contractions. Who have odd collections and hobbies. Who are so involved in her sister's life, yet seem to brush aside her own. Not at school either. She doesn't really want to be part of the popular crowd. And she really does love her friends--even if there are only two of them, Judith and Ty. But. Sometimes she wishes for a little bit more. Like catching a cute guy's attention. Why couldn't someone like her instead of just making fun of her.

Hamlet is trying to come to a place where she's comfortable being herself. It's not easy. But with a little help from her friends, with a little help from her sister, she may just get there yet.

I didn't love this one. But I did like it. I found Hamlet's parents to be a bit too over the top for me to believe. Personally. Can parents be super-embarrassing? Yes. Can they be hard for their children to understand? Yes. At times. But I found them in this story to be a bit too much. The dialogue of her sister also didn't quite work for me. At least not at first. She didn't sound like a child. She didn't sound like an adult. From this century at least. But as the book went on, I became used to Hamlet's parents and her sister. And I did like it in the end.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Andrea said...

Well, it sounds very quirky. I hadn't heard of this title before.

Anonymous said...

I found this book in the library. I really loved the book.