Title: The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life
Author: Dani Jansen
Publisher: Second Story Press
Publication Date: September 22nd, 2020
Format: Advance Readers Copy provided through NetGalley
Synopsis: Alison Green, desperate valedictorian-wannabe, agrees to produce her school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That’s her first big mistake. The second is accidentally saying Yes to a date with her oldest friend, Jack, even though she’s crushing on Charlotte. Alison manages to stay positive, even when her best friend starts referring to the play as “Ye Olde Shakespearean Disaster.” Alison must cope with the misadventures that befall the play if she’s going to survive the year. She’ll also have to grapple with what it means to be “out” and what she might be willing to give up for love.
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Hello lovelies! I’m so excited to be a part of TBR and Beyond Tours blog tour for Dani Jansen’s, The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life! For my tour post today I’ll be sharing a few of my favorite quotes from the book and a spoiler-free review! You can check out the rest of the tour, just follow this link!
Reading this book was really interesting for me, because so often it’s hard for me to see myself in books. It’s one of the reasons I avoid contemporary stories. But this book sounded too cute to pass up on and I’m so glad I got to read it. This is definitely a book I could have used when I was in high school.
What I like most about this book is how little drama there is when depicting the queer relationships that help shape most of this book. So often it feels like when I read queer stories, the characters have to go through some sort of drama, or pain, or heart-break, before they can be happy, before they can have their happy ending. Jansen doesn’t do that to her characters. Yes, there’s drama, but it’s not completely rooted in fear and anger. These characters simply want to be themselves, and yes coming to terms with that is hard for some of them but their experience is based on hope, and love–not overcoming some great obstacle like they have to prove they’re worthy of love and acceptance.
Jansen writes a positive, and hopeful queer experience that is exactly what I as a queer reader needed. It always wonderful to read well written queer experiences, but to read one that doesn’t involved pain and anger, was truly wonderful. I feel like as publishing continues to move forward, not only are we getting more Queer stories, but we’re also getting stories that aren’t rooted in pain and characters having to prove their worth to those around them.
The first quote I selected from this book was the moment that this book hit so close to home for me. Like the main character Alison I’m not closeted, but I’ve also never felt the need to have this big moment where I tell everyone I’m queer. And because I didn’t want that, because I just wanted to be myself and not make a big deal about my sexuality, I’ve often felt like I don’t belong in the LGBTQIA+ community. So to see a character who feels the same, who doesn’t want anyone to make a big deal about their sexuality, felt amazing.
While this wasn’t a five star read for me I have no complaints about the book either. It was well written, the characters were interesting (though not all that different from characters you’d find in any other YA book), and the plot moved along at a good pace, making this a quick, fun read. I’ll definitely be recommending this one to readers looking for a more light-hearted Queer story and those love high school theater.
About the Author: Dani Jansen is a teacher and writer who lives in Montreal. She should probably be embarrassed to admit that she has performed as part of her school’s Glee Club for eight years. She should probably also be ashamed to tell people that she named her cats after punctuation symbols (Ampersand and Em-Dash, in case you’re curious).