Published November 1st 2016 by Disney-Hyperion
Format read: Finished copy via publisher
One night after rehearsal, Emma stays behind to think through her life's latest crises and distractedly falls through the stage's trap door . . . landing in the basement of the Globe Theater.
It's London, 1601, and with her awesome new pixie cut, everyone thinks Emma's a boy--even Will Shakespeare himself. With no clue how to get home, Emma gamely plays her role as backstage assistant to the original production of Hamlet, learning a thing or two about the theater, and meeting an incredibly hot actor named Alex who finds Emma as intriguing as she finds him. But once Emma starts traveling back and forth through time, things get really confusing. Which boy is the one for her? In which reality does she belong? Will Lulu ever forgive her? And can she possibly save two disastrous productions of Hamlet before time runs out?
Such was the case with Saving Hamlet, Molly Booth’s debut novel. Emma Allen is determined to have an awesome sophomore year, and thinks her cute new haircut and her new role is the drama club’s assistant stage manger will bring her closer to her crush. But things don’t turn out exactly as planned.
As things slowly fall of control, Emma falls through the stage’s trap door and ends up in 1600s London…
There are so many things to love about this book, beginning with Booth’s overarching emphasis on the idea of the drama club being an inclusive, open place. Emma, best friend Lulu, and even soccer star Josh, all find a new arena where they can try out new things – though in Josh’s case, it’s not quite successful at first – and people will accept them and even push them to become better than before.
It’s a wonderful reminder that even though high school can be a tough time, there are always people who will be your equal, as long as you seek them out. Emma is reminded of this time and again as she confronts her former soccer teammates, and Booth paints a vivid picture of friends who support you, and friends who do not.
Once the play gets into gear, the drama of Hamlet also becomes a two-part life lesson for Emma in terms of trusting new people and in new adventures. Though she’s initially nervous at the idea of taking on the assistant stage manager role, her forays into managing and Shakespearean England help her develop confidence, and the willingness to try new things.
Though her time with Shakespeare doesn’t exactly go as planned, it pushes Emma to realize in many ways, what she does want. It’s a great reminder on Booth’s part that sometimes, the stumbles we experience will be ugly and wound us. But it’s through those stumbles that we grow, as evidenced by Emma’s burgeoning determination to fix some of the things that have gone wrong in her life.
Though the play itself doesn’t turn out exactly as planned, it turns out in the best possible way for all characters involved. Even the actual performance of the play has Emma and her friends pushing themselves to new heights, and coming to terms with a resolution that’s happy and intelligent for everyone involved.
All in all, Saving Hamlet is a fun tale of personal growth, friendship and learning how to becoming the best version of one's self. Highly recommend, full stop.
About the author:
Molly Booth is a total Shakespeare nerd. She grew up homeschooled in Massachusetts, and spent most of her time reading Tamora Pierce novels and pretending to be Redwall characters with her four siblings. In high school, she was a stage manager for three different community theatres, which almost killed her.
Molly now lives in Portland, ME, with her cat, dog, and one-eyed rat. You can find her on twitter (@mollygbooth) sporadically, and on Tumblr (muchadoaboutmolly.tumblr.com) habitually.