Monday, November 21, 2011

Shakespeare's Secret - Elise Broach

Summary:  A missing diamond.  A 500-year-old necklace.  A mystery dating back to the time of William Shakespeare.

Named after a character from a Shakespearean play, Hero anticipates having a rough time starting the sixth grade at her new school.  She isn't at all interested in this literary connection--not until she finds that there may be a diamond hidden in her new house, and that it may hold the key to the mystery of Shakespeare's true identity.  All of a sudden, her name is very interesting and so is Danny Cordova, the most popular boy in school (and the cutest) who seems intent on uncovering the mystery with Hero.  (Summary from back of the book and image from

My Review:  It's never easy being the new girl; combine that with an unusual first name and, unless you're a ham for the spotlight, it's a recipe for ostracism.  Hero is an underdog.  Thankfully she's not so hung up on her lack of social life that it prevents her from developing her own personality.  Shadowed by her older sister's beauty and popularity, embarrassed by her quirky parents, Hero takes on each new school and situation all on her own.  At least in this new home she found an interesting neighbor and a mystery to unravel.

Hero's pursuits match her with an unexpected partner in crime--one who ruins her reputation simply by the disbelief that Danny would associate with her.  Hero's desire to fit in, but remain true to herself, drives her actions as well as the plot.

There's not a whole lot of plot development, but the history mixed in and the growth in Hero's character make the story an engaging and satisfying read.  According to the author, the history in the book is almost all accurate (she does elucidate the details that are not).  This alone makes the book intriguing for me.  I'm not sure my students would understand the significance of the claims or the historical figures themselves, but as an adult I'm glad they're being exposed to these characters in some way.

It wasn't a book that I couldn't put down and since the plot was a bit weak I couldn't quite give it 4 stars.  Overall, it was a nice, clean, interesting read.

Rating: 3.75 stars

For the sensitive reader:  Nothing to be worried about.  Squeaky clean.

Sum it up:  Laced with history, combined with some life lessons makes this an enjoyable early YA read.

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