Star-Crossed Barbara Dee Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 2017 Hardback, 277 pages
Trigger Warnings: N/A
About the Author: Barbara Dee is the author of Everything I Know About You, Halfway Normal, and Star-Crossed. She grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and can track her childhood through the books she’s read. Currently, she lives with her family in Westchester County, N.Y.
“‘Let them see you,’ she whispered.”
In Star-Crossed, eighth grade Mattie Monaghan crashes a party she wasn’t invited to disguised as Darth Vader, all to discover her true feelings about a boy. Instead, she discovers she may have feelings for a girl, and must navigate these feelings while acting alongside her in the eighth grade production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This play becomes a huge passion for her as she helps her peers, spends more time with her crush, and even takes on the daunting task of switching roles more than halfway through the production.
Star-Crossed is mostly inner-monologue, the reader staying inside the protagonist’s head. Because of this, there is little action that propels the romance between the protagonist and her crush, and this feels extremely realistic and refreshing, especially considering its target audience.
To couple that, the protagonist’s queerness is never treated as an oddity, nor as a transformation she has to endure, as it is often treated in other books. Her feelings are treated as normal and this is a great thing to read in a middle grade book. Barbara Dee does an excellent job with pacing, narration, and queer representation for middle-grade kids.