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"Sentenced to Shakespeare" is a contemporary young adult novel set in suburban New Jersey. The story revolves around Leah, a smart and sensitive 15-year-old girl who is pushed too far by a bully and snaps. Arrested for assault and battery, Leah is sentenced to an unusual form of rehabilitation-she must take and complete a Shakespeare workshop or else risk incarceration. Ostracized by her classmates, abandoned by her only friend, Leah finds comfort and solidarity with the other juvenile offenders in this same program, with one offering her something she's never experienced before--love.
Read an Excerpt
As she recounted her parents’ astonishment at her arrest, silence enveloped the session room, and Leah was stung with a pang of regret and embarrassment.
I should have kept it short and simple. Even that cranky girl, Kelly, is looking at me with pity.
“Your parents never knew what you were going through at school?” asked Downey, breaking the lull that seemed excruciating to Leah.
“Why didn’t you tell them? Were you afraid of their reaction?”
Leah bowed her head, her eyes on the ground. “I didn’t want to bother them. And I didn’t want to tell my brother because I knew he would tell them.”
“So, you said nothing?”
Leah nodded her head in assent. After a minute elapsed— a minute that seemed like an eternity—she conceded, “I thought this was my problem, and I needed to think of ways to solve it. But it wouldn’t end. It still hasn’t. I’m still treated like an outcast, although no one picks on me anymore. At least not directly.”
“That’s a shame,” answered Downey. And judging by the bobbing of the heads of a few of the teens, including Rob, Tiffany, and Jake, the rest of those in the room roundly echoed Downey’s sentiment.
“I’m glad you smacked the hell out of that bitch,” said Kelly in commiseration, her glower yielding to a more congenial bearing.
Leah mouthed back, “Thanks,” to her.
About the Author:
When I saw the word 'Shakespeare', it instantly caught my eye as I'm a HUGE lover of all of his writing. When I then learned that this story is based on an actual program like the one in the book, I was even more excited. Bullys and bullying are huge these days and I find very difficult for kids to speak up about, even to their own parents or beloved teachers and principals. There are times, as in the story, where the initial bullying is unobserved and goes unpunished. Having a program like the Shakespeare program helps to address issues in a positive manner and help kids who might simply learn more bad habits by being expelled or sent to juvie to learn positive coping skills.
This story brings all of this to light and more. It is well-written with all of the ups and downs that teens go through in a single day. The plot is interesting and well-rounded with a good variety of characters both well behaved and not. I loved reading it and would suggest it to other teens and their moms for sure!
I received this complimentary copy upon request and am voluntarily leaving my review. All opinions are my own.
About the Author:
Iris Dorbian is a professional business and arts journalist whose credits include Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Crain's New York Business, Venture Capital Journal, Buyouts, Investopedia, DMNews, Jerusalem Report, the Forward, Playbill, Backstage, Theatermania, Live Design, Media Industry Newsletter and PR News. She is the former editor-in-chief of Stage Directions magazine and author of "Great Producers: Visionaries of the American Theater," which was published by Allworth Press/Skyhorse Publishing in August 2008; and "Sentenced to Shakespeare," which was published by Milford House Press, an imprint of Sunbury Press. Her personal essays have been published in Blue Lyra Review, B O D Y, Embodied Effigies, Jewish Literary Journal, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Adanna Literary Journal, ThisSpace.org, Skirt! and Gothesque Magazine. A New Jersey native, Iris has a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.
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