Wednesday, April 30, 2014

**#Jumble Your Genres Review ~ The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet~ Erin Dionne**

The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet
The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne
Release Date: January 7, 2010
Genre: Middle Grade
Source: Purchased paperback
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms

Hamlet Kennedy just wants to be your average, happy, vanilla eighth grader. But with Shakespearean scholar parents who dress in Elizabethan regalia and generally go about in public as if it were the sixteenth century, that's not terribly easy. It gets worse when they decide that Hamlet's genius seven year-old sister will attend middle school with her - and even worse when the Shakespeare project is announced and her sister is named the new math tutor. By the time an in-class recitation reveals that our heroine is an extraordinary Shakespearean actress, Hamlet can no longer hide from the fact that she - like her family - is anything but average. In a novel every bit as funny as her debut, Erin Dionne has created another eighth grader whose situation is utterly unique - but whose foibles and farces will resound with every girl currently suffering through middle school.

"All's not fair in life and middle school..."

No truer words have been spoken. And while I think it would be cool having parents who are Shakespearean scholars that dress in Elizabethan-era clothing - in public - and serve dinners from an Elizabethan-era cookbook, I can see how that might cause a few problems for a middle schooler. Add to that a genius 7 year old sister, who is matriculating in the same grade as you because she needs the art credit for her college courses as well as the socialization, and well, you have a tale of woe for one Hamlet Kennedy.

I initially purchased this book for my younger daughter. I hoped it would give her some perspective and something to laugh at as she was/is dealing with a similar situation. (no, I don't dress in Shakespearean regalia.) She didn't get far into the book because she felt it was a bit too close to her real life but now that I've finished it, I'm going to encourage her to give it another chance.

Ms. Dionne did an excellent job of describing the pitfalls and problems facing middle schoolers. She also provided options for navigating these tricky waters. From mean girls, friend issues, academic struggles, and parental embarrassment, Hamlet proved nothing is insurmountable. Ms. Dionne also seems to be sending a few messages about following your passion, not worrying about what others think, being true to yourself, and having fun. Hamlet had been surviving by trying to be invisible, not standing out...but she learned that having a talent - being seen - isn't all that bad.

I truly enjoyed Hamlet's story. It jarred some memories for me as well as gave me some insight into the world my two youngest children inhabit. And although I intended Hamlet's story to maybe soothe my daughter's feelings about her situation with her younger brother, I realized my son may have a few things to work through having entered middle school a few years before his time.

I probably got more out of this story than a middle schooler will - particularly since my circumstances are similar, but I think it's a great read for any middle schooler. It's a chance to see their problems are normal and maybe aren't so it offers examples of ways to deal with those problems. And it provides lots of laughs along the way.


  1. I liked the teaser you shared yesterday but, I must say, it's your review that really got me interested in the book. I think it's wonderful when you can feel so close to a read and I hope your daughter will give this another go. It sounds like a special book, indeed!
    Fantastic review, Brandee!

    1. Thanks, Silvia! I really do hope my daughter will give it a try - and my son as well. I think it'd be a great way to start a different sort of dialog with them. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. This sounds great, Brandee. I've got a 14 y.o. sister this would be perfect for, and when she gets done with it, I might just try it myself ;)

    Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    1. I really do think that it's a book both you and your sister would enjoy, Jessica. Although your sister might appreciate it a bit more. ;)

  3. This was an awesome review because it did sell the book. I am glad you are going to see if your daughter will give it another go. My daughter was reading Dork Diaries and Diary of a Whimpy kid, all that good middle grade stuff, she is now moving onto dystopians and what I think is ok in the YA section for her to read. She is going to be twelve.


  4. It's good to see you got something out of this book, considering it is for middle school children. It sounds like an interesting read!

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

  5. Well, you know that Zane loves to read and he's entering Middle School next year so I will be checking this one out for sure. Thank you so much for the great review! Jaclyn @ JC's Book Haven.

  6. How cool that you've found a story both you and your daughter can enjoy. I hope she enjoy it more of her second try.
    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Great review, Brandee! This sounds like a book my daughter might be interested in.

  8. This sounds really good! I bet my sister would love this one. Sounds like a really fun read, gotta check it out!

    Teresa @ Readers Live A Thousand Lives

  9. aww sounds like a really cute great book for kids!


Now you know what I think...what are your thoughts??