Pamela L. Laskin’s beautiful and lyrical novel in verse delivers a fresh and captivating retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that transports the star-crossed lovers to the modern-day Israel-Palestine conflict.
Ronit, an Israeli girl, lives on one side of the fence. Jamil, a Palestinian boy, lives on the other side. Only miles apart but separated by generations of conflict—much more than just the concrete blockade between them. Their fathers, however, work in a distrusting but mutually beneficial business arrangement, a relationship that brings Ronit and Jamil together. And lightning strikes. The kind of lightning that transcends barrier fences, war, and hatred.
The teenage lovers fall desperately into the throes of forbidden love, one that would create an irreparable rift between their families if it were discovered. But a love this big can only be kept secret for so long. Ronit and Jamil must face the fateful choice to save their lives or their loves, as it may not be possible to save both.
About the Author
Pamela L. Laskin is a lecturer in the English department at City College of New York and directs the Poetry Outreach Center. A published poet and author, she has written several poetry chapbooks and children’s books, including Homer the Little Stray Cat, and short YA stories for both Sassy and Young Miss magazines. She is currently a Colin Powell fellow and a SEED grant recipient for Poetry Outreach, and she has received three RF CUNY grants for completion of creative work. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
“Laskin’s spare first-person poems and prefatory and end notes help educate young readers as to the gravity of the political stakes in this war-torn region. . . At once romantic and revealing, an important window into contemporary conditions in the Middle East.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“Ronit & Jamil is as beautiful as it is timely. This modern-day Romeo and Juliet is a story that is at once supremely specific and stunningly universal. The poems stand on their own while holding together a narrative that you want to live inside of long after the final page.”
— Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award-winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming
“Writing in clipped, understated verse, Laskin...sensitively describes two lovers weaving their way through social, political, and familial hurdles designed to keep them apart. A lyrical message of peace and love radiates from this relevant and hopeful reimagining.”
— Publishers Weekly
“Supplementary information offers context, including language translations, additional story details, and references to other works. The small, handheld trim size reinforces the story’s intimate feel.”
— Horn Book Magazine
“[T]he modern verse-flecked with Arabic, Hebrew, and iconic excerpts from the play itself-will ease romance-hungry teens into both Shakespeare’s original and the challenging context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A welcome nod to hope in the face of the impossible.
“[A]ccessible verse and universal questions about crossing cultural lines make for a quick and powerful read. An obvious choice to pair with Romeo and Juliet in a literature class, this can also open discussion about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and about bridging cultural boundaries.”
— School Library Journal