Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Summary: This 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 Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza.
Ronit, an Israeli girl, lives on one side of the barrier 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. Ronit and Jamil 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 be kept secret for only so long. Soon, the teenage lovers must face the fateful choice to save their lives or their loves, as it may not be possible to save both.
*Received/Reviewed a physical ARC, this in no way influences my thoughts*
My Rating:★★★★☆ ½
My Thoughts: Ronit & Jamil is both unique and unforgettable! Told through lyrical verse, Laskin’s modern take of Romeo & Juliet centers around an Israeli girl & a Palestinian boy and the connection they share in Israel.
This book captured my heart!
Through Laskin’s writing-style, I was immediately transported + found that it really captured and symbolized the complications and triumphs of their instantaneous love for each other.
Getting to read from both Ronit & Jamil’s points of view really allowed me to see what both of their hearts longed for, which was freedom and a place to call their own!
Even though there was a quick and fast-paced writing-style, I felt I knew Ronit & Jamil and could sympathize with them and the obstacles they encountered.
Additionally, another fascinating aspect of the writing was the similarities between both Ronit & Jamil’s POV’s. Though they have been raised with families that have differing points of view, each of their sections throughout the novel show just how similar they truly are and how these differing ideals + beliefs clash and cause difficulty for their forbidden relationship.
Complete strangers at first, they encounter each other when Ronit’s father delivers medicine to Jamil’s father at a clinic where he works.
Though they live on opposite sides of the border and their families don’t see eye-to-eye, they can’t help but fall in love with each other!
Ronit gives Jamil her number and the two soon start texting and meeting up in secret. They find solace in each other and long for what is beyond their reach. The wall and conflict on their sides keeps them separated, but they know deep down it wont fracture the love they have for each other.
Family plays a huge role in this novel! The parents want what is best for their children and though they have the best intentions to keep them safe, Ronit & Jamil begin to question the division of their land.
There are multiple sections with both parents points of view and it adds so much depth to the story and lets the reader understand the difficulties and sacrifices both sides have encountered.
However, conflict arises in the war-torn regions and both are left to ponder if there is someone to blame, is it the opposing side? Yet even through those difficulties they push the disagreements aside and decide that what they truly long for is to be together and escape the conflict in their lives.
I did take off 1/2 a star b/c there were moments that I was unsure of who was speaking + there were some moments I felt were a little rushed.
I loved that the novel had additional notes throughout the story which helped with words or phrases I was unfamiliar with. I also loved reading the acknowledgements where Laskin explained the research and inspiration that went into her story! It was clear that this was a story she was truly passionate about telling!
Laskin’s novel delivers a captivating tale of star-crossed love that transcends and delivers messages of hope and understanding even when times may be difficult.