Beatrice Bunson's Guide to Romeo and Juliet: A Novel

Paul Dry Books
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"Cohen has made an essential classic cool."—Beth Kephart

"Juliet Capulet would find a worthy BFF in Beatrice Bunson."—Cordelia Frances Biddle

High school begins, and to Beatrice Bunson nothing is the same, not even her best friend, Nan. The "new" Nan doesn't hang out with Bea after school; instead she's running for Student Council and going to parties and avoiding Bea at lunchtime. The boys who were gross in middle school have become surprisingly polite, while the "cool" kids are still a mystery. Bea's older sister, meanwhile, acts like she's living in a soap opera.

On the bright side, there's English class with Mr. Martin, where Beatrice discovers that Shakespeare has something to say about almost everything—and that nothing in life is as dramatic as Romeo and Juliet.

But when Nan gets in over her head in her new social life, it's up to Beatrice to restore her reputation—and she may need to make a few new friends to pull it off. One of them, the slightly brainy guy that Beatrice meets at her grandmother's retirement home, is definitely kind of cute, and probably dateable. (Fortunately, nothing is the same in high school.)

As Beatrice and her classmates tackle Romeo and Juliet, they unveil the subtleties of the play as well as broader lessons of love, family, honor, and misunderstandings. Guided by Mr. Martin, these ninth-graders help us to understand Shakespeare, as Shakespeare helps them begin to understand themselves.

"Beatrice Bunson's Guide to Romeo and Juliet whisked me straight back to my own high school days, when I read Juliet beside a Romeo I'd long blushingly admired. Shakespeare was talking to me, I was sure, but I wasn't always precisely sure what he was saying—a confusion I would have never experienced had I had this smart, tender story within a story at hand. Explicating the secret codes of heady teen romance with as much sagacity as she deciphers Shakespearean sonnets and wit, Cohen has made an essential classic cool."—Beth Kephart, author of Going OverOne Thing Stolen, and This Is the Story of You

"Paula Marantz Cohen hits all the right notes in her charming, wise and heart-stirring tale of teen angst, young love, betrayal and loyalty. Beatrice 'Bea' Bunson makes a spunky heroine, a member of the 'smart set' who's too self-deprecating to recognize her worth as she navigates high-school cliques, family dramas, and not-so-secret crushes. Reading Romeo and Juliet for an English class, Bea ponders the weighty issues of honor and courage, and then finds those forces impacting her life. I couldn't help but picture Juliet time-traveling to a 21st century teen environment—and then went one step further and imagined Shakespeare's young heroine coping with tense school lunches and clandestine beer parties. Juliet Capulet would find a worthy BFF in Beatrice Bunson."—Cordelia Frances Biddle, author of the Martha Beale mystery series

"This is a charming book. The story of Romeo and Juliet intertwines with the more comic vicissitudes (SAT word) of Beatrice Bunson's first year in high school. Paula Marantz Cohen clearly knows both Shakespeare and ninth graders. Warning to teachers of high school Shakespeare classes: be prepared to revise your lesson plan."—Gillian Murray Kendall, professor of English Language and Literature (and Shakespeare scholar), Smith College

"What's the best way to deal with high school drama? Apply the problem-solving strategies of Shakespeare…Cohen offers up lessons of theory and language while engaging her readers with enjoyable characters who find themselves entangled in Shakespearean plots that must be unwound with compassion and insight…Her discussions of plot, language, and thematic elements will serve young scholars better than SparkNotes. Ideal for those who are charmed by the romance of Shakespeare. And who isn't?"—Kirkus Reviews

Paula Marantz Cohen's novels include Suzanne Davis Gets a Life (Paul Dry Books 2014), Jane Austen in Scarsdale or Love, Death and the SATs, and What Alice Knew. She teaches English at Drexel University.

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About the author

Paula Marantz Cohen's novels include Suzanne Davis Gets a Life (Paul Dry Books 2014), Jane Austen in Scarsdale or Love, Death and the SATs, and What Alice Knew. She teaches English at Drexel University.

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Additional Information

Paul Dry Books
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Published on
Mar 2, 2016
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Juvenile Fiction / School & Education
Juvenile Fiction / Social Themes / Friendship
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Over 6 million people have read the #1 New York Times bestseller WONDER and have fallen in love with Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face. 

The book that inspired the Choose Kind movement.

I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

"Wonder is the best kids' book of the year," said Emily Bazelon, senior editor at and author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” —indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

Join the conversation: #thewonderofwonder
This provocative study traces Alfred Hitchcock's long directorial career from Victorianism to postmodernism. Paula Cohen considers a sampling of Hitchcock's best films -- Shadow of a Doubt, Rear Window, Vertigo, Psycho -- as well as some of his more uneven ones -- Rope, The Wrong Man, Topaz -- and makes connections between his evolution as a filmmaker and trends in the larger society.

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Cohen "portrays timeless and universal challenges through a buoyant combination of humor, pathos, and gumption."—Booklist

"Suzanne Davis Gets a Life isn't just seriously entertaining, it's entertainingly serious…I want my romantic comedy heroines to have wit, but I want them to have character too, and be as interested in the world as in themselves. Paula Marantz Cohen has given me all of that."—Margo Jefferson

A "witty commentary on contemporary life, enriched by a funny, flawed, and likable heroine."—Kirkus

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Suzanne Davis lounges around her tiny New York City apartment in her pajamas, writing press releases for the International Association of Air-Conditioning Engineers, listening to the ticking of her biological clock, and wondering where life is taking her. As her 35th birthday looms, Suzanne embarks on a wrong-headed, but very funny, quest—to find Mr. Right and start the family she hopes will give meaning to her life. 

Her quest plunges us into the world of her Upper West Side apartment building, a world of overly invested mothers, fanatical dog-owners, curmudgeonly longtime residents, and young (and not so young) professionals. All are keenly observed by Suzanne, whose witty self-deprecation endears her to us even as it makes us want to shake some sense into her. 

Light in its tone but incisive in its social satire, Suzanne Davis Gets a Life balances its wit with true concern for its protagonist. We can’t help but wish Suzanne success in “getting a life.” But can such a search possibly yield the meaning she craves? When her extremely annoying mother arrives on the scene, it appears that her plan has been hijacked. But serious illness opens her to new people and a new perspective. She ends by getting a life—even as she may lose one. 
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