Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee

Title: Star-Crossed
Author: Barbara Dee
Publication date: 2017

Date started: 20/01/2020
Date finished: 31/01/2020

First sentence: “It wasn’t about me, I knew. But still.”
Last sentence: “She kissed my cheek, and then, laughing, pulled me onto the dance floor.”
Favorite sentence: “How do you know if you like someone because you really do like that person, or if you like him only because you think you’re supposed to?”

Summary: Mattie has a crush on Elijah, and her best friends Tessa and Lucy convince her to come to Willow’s party in a disguise to try to approach him. Mattie wasn’t invited to the party, so she hesitates, but then decides to borrow her brothers’ Darth Vader costume, which also modifies her voice, to make sure that nobody will recognize her. She gets ready and arrives at the party where no one – not even her friends – know who she is. She does manage to talk to Elijah, who mistakes her for one of his friends, but nothing special happens. Many people want to know who’s under the mask, but she manages to avoid them all. She finally goes up in the kitchen, a forbidden place during Willow’s parties, to take a breather, and that’s when she meets Gemma. Gemma is a new student, coming straight from England – she’s pretty and has a lovely accent, and Mattie wonders why she’s hanging out with Willow’s crew when they seem to be so mean, and she doesn’t. Gemma is also taking refuge in the kitchen because the party is too much for her, so they start taking a little, start a light saber vs drinking straw fight, and… is that flirting? But soon Willow discovers them, and rips Mattie’s mask off, revealing her identity. Mattie runs away crying, but later realizes that she left her cape with Gemma. She’s embarrassed because she thinks that Gemma will feel tricked for having flirted with someone she thought was a boy, but when Mattie goes to her place on the next day to get her cape back, Gemma doesn’t seem to blame her at all. At school, the English teacher Mr Torres announces that they are organizing Romeo & Juliet as a play this year, and casting start. All of Mattie’s friends are participating, and she ends up deciding to audition, and gets the role of Paris, which is what she wanted. Gemma is Juliet, to no one’s surprise, and a popular boy named Liam is Romeo. Liam doesn’t seem great for the role: he’s stressed, doesn’t know his lines and isn’t a great actor, so Mr Torres asks Mattie to tutor him so he gets better. She does her best, but his motivation is quite low, and when he breaks his arm in an ice hockey game, he uses it as an excuse to leave the play. Mr Torres realizes that without a Romeo so close to the opening time, the play is doomed…. unless Mattie agrees to step in, as she knows all the lines already! But Mattie started to realize that she has feelings for Gemma, and she’s not sure she can stand kissing her for the play… She eventually tells her best friends and her big sister, Cara, who all think it’s pretty normal. The play goes well, and afterwards she asks Gemma out on a date! Gemma accepts, and kisses her cheek before asking her for a dance!

Opinion: This was quite a cute book, and I’m glad it exists, because we need more lgbtq+ representation in children’s books! The story was quite simple and predictable, but still very sweet and enjoyable. The fact that nobody reacts negatively to Mattie’s crush is very important and appreciated. Also Mattie’s communication problems with her friends are pointed out, and the importance of trusting your friends is emphasized. I would recommend this book for any kid!

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