Julieta and the Romeos by Maria E. Andreu
Out now from Balzer & Bray/Harperteen; 400 pages
About the Author: “Maria E. Andreu is the author of Julieta and the Romeos (Balzer + Bray, 2023), Love in English (Balzer + Bray, 2021), an Indie Next Pick and Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection, as well as an as-yet untitled book (B+B, 2022) . Her work has appeared in Literary Hub, Teen Vogue, Newsweek, The Washington Post, NJ.com, and the Newark Star Ledger.Her debut young adult novel, The Secret Side of Empty is a Junior Library Guild Selection, a National Indie Excellence Book Award winner, an International Latino Book Awards Finalist and has been called “captivating” by School Library Journal. Maria is Latinx and Argentinian-American and currently lives in New Jersey just outside New York City. Her work has been informed by her experiences as a formerly undocumented, non-native English speaker and immigrant to the U.S.” (Bio from Author’s website).
Find Maria E. Andreu on the following platforms:
Julieta Talavera Toledo, Jules for short, is an Argentinian teen and aspiring writer who decides to spend the summer before senior year attending a writing intensive program with her favorite author, Paige Bingham. When Paige challenges her students to publish their works, Jules decides to publish a short romance story on StoriedZone, an online social storytelling website. However, she one day gets a message from a user named HappilyEverDrafter who wishes to collaborate on the story. Engaged in an enthusiastic exchange of story writing, she wonders if HappilyEverDrafter could be the one. But who is HappilyEverDrafter? Jules finds herself narrowing the suspects down to three boys in her life: Lucas, her childhood friend; Calvin, her abuela’s neighbor; and Ryan, her best friend’s brother. While honing her craft and helping out in her family’s restaurant, Jules comes to find out that life is filled with unexpected twists and turns.
Julieta and the Romeos is a heart-pounding YA romance that is impossible to put down. There is so much to love about the narrative Andreu composed. I loved how Julieta and the Romeos isn’t just a romance novel, but a story about a girl figuring out her identity. Andreu meaningfully explores the insecurities of writing. Andreu sets this novel after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and navigates the real-life struggles it had on businesses, families, and young ones’ mental health. I found this angle to be extremely refreshing, as it helps reaffirm the unique struggles that the pandemic caused. The biggest strength of this novel was its seamless integration of Argentinian culture with American culture. I was inspired by the strong sense of unity and pride.
Overall, I found this novel to be extremely impactful, and it’s definitely a story I recommend every teen to read. Just like Jules, readers will be in for lots of twists and turns that come in the most unanticipated ways.
PRR Writer, Tereza Rascon