Title: The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life
Author: Dani Jensen
Date of publication: September 22nd 2020
Publisher: Second Story Press
Print length: Paperback, 304 pages
Genre: Romance, LGBTQ, Fiction, Young Adult, Contemporary
You can buy this book from Amazon
Writing Quality 5/5, Character Development 4/5, ‘Couldn’t put it down’ – ness 5/5, Intellectual Depth 5/5, Diversity 5/5, Originality 5/5, Overall 4.8/5.
I postponed reading The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life for months, but as the publication date approached, I had no choice but to read the book. It took me around a week to get through, but if it weren’t for school work, I would have finished it in a matter of hours!
Yes, everybody has to wonder if the person they like likes them back. But when you’re gay, you have to first wonder whether or not that person even likes your gender.
The best thing about this book was by far, the plot and the course of actions. This book was one of the lightest novels I have ever read this year, and I enjoyed that. The actions few by, but at the same time, I have never found myself wondering how I got to a certain point into the book. Every chapter had a well-defined starting point and a well-defined endpoint. Each of the chapters ended up where they were supposed to end. The reason why I put so much accent on this thing is that I’ve read an enormous number of novels lately, and even the most well-known ones had problems with this. All I have to say is that this lady knows how to write a grabbing novel!
I firmly believe that one of the keys to being a good leader was faking optimism so others wouldn’t be put off by your panic. That might work with your average working bee, but not with my best friend. Becca saw right through me.
All of the characters had something to do with the plot, and in the end, all of them helped Alison learn a valuable lesson. There were some I liked more than others, but that isn’t something out of the ordinary. Alison was the main character, and what I liked the most about her, was the fact that she was an LGBTQAI representant herself. Many novels that I’ve read before do not have queer characters as protagonists, and this book was a pleasant change. We get to see the story through her eyes, and I think this gave the book a more playful tone. Becca and Jack are Alison’s best friends. They will be a major plot point around the first part of the book, and that is all I have to say. Charlotte was the love interest of Alison, and what I liked the most about her character is that she was the complete opposite of Alison. While she was quite open about her sexuality and very laid back, Alison was always thinking about school, how to become a valedictorian and a bit shy. Annie was Alison’s sister, and I have to say, their dynamic is exactly like the relationship I have with my sister.
“Don’t be so sure. Sex makes everything more complicated.” Zach rubbed his forehead.
I got the feeling we weren’t talking about me anymore. “Boy troubles?”
“Closeted boyfriend troubles.”
I have been amazed by how diverse this book has been. I mentioned before that the protagonist was a lesbian, but the author also brought to light a pansexual somebody and a gay relationship. Also, the author talked about cultural appropriation and gender as a social construct. I wish she put a lot more accent on these things, as they are huge problems in today’s society, but it is still good that she mentioned them. I’m thinking of writing some articles around these subjects, so if you want to see them, comment below.
“Princess Sunshine is an interesting name.”
Charlotte chucked and picked a white dog hair off her black pants. “My little sister named him. My father freaked out. I tried to explain to him that gender is a social construct, but he thinks I’m corruption my little sister and that she’ll turn gay too. My mom had to convince him that a five-year-old isn’t making a political statement when she names her dog. But he refuses to call the dog by name.”
There is only one problem I had with this book. I wish it had been longer. I think that if the novel had around 400 pages instead of 300, the author would have had more time to develop Alison as a character. She was great, but at the same time, by the end of the novel, you wish you had more of her. The book had the sweetest ending, but you wish there was more. Also, I feel like the ending was a bit rushed, and I do wish there was a lot more description regarding the opening night.
I knew I had to calm down, so I pictured my thoughts as clouds in the sky. I wanted to let them pass by, but they felt like gathering rain clouds. They were too dark and heavy to drift away.
Overall, the book was exactly what I needed! It was a light, high school romance, all wrapped up in a diverse read which dealt on a smaller scale with interesting subjects as gender and cultural appropriation. I would highly recommend it for high schoolers and people aged 13 and up. Also, this novel is good for adults who are quite nostalgic about their teenage years.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dani Jansen is an English and drama teacher who lives in Montreal. She performed (as a teacher) in her school’s glee show for eight years. Yes, there is probably video evidence of this. No, she will not point you in the direction of where to find it. Dani helped found her school’s Gay-Straight Alliance and has only occasionally subjected her students to the Bard. Her writing has appeared in Lunch Ticket, The A3 Review, and Fiction Southeast. She has also contributed to Maman Loup’s Den. Her debut novel, The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life, is out September 22, 2020.