3.5 out of 5 stars
I love historical fiction, and Shakespeare, so Saving Hamlet was right up my alley: a cute and quirky twist on both ideas.
Saving Hamlet is the story of Emma Allen, high school sports star-turned-theater nerd, embarking on her first theatrical stage manager job: her school’s production of ‘Hamlet.’ As drama unfolds both on-stage and off, Emma becomes increasingly stressed. Working late one night, she falls through the newly sawed trapdoor in the school’s stage… and lands in The Globe Theatre, in Elizabethan England, during Shakespeare’s own rehearsal’s for ‘Hamlet.’
Unlike most stories in the time-travel ouvre, Emma can go back and forth between her time and The Globe at will. It makes for a fun plot device – she’s learning how to stage manage with real Shakespeare and bringing it back t0 present day high school Shakespeare. You can imagine how the two measure up – or don’t.
The hallmarks or high school angst are here: crushes, popularity contests, mean girls, athletic prowess. What Booth does with impressive dexterity is layer in a truly sad storyline: leading lady of the stage, LuLu, has recently come out as bisexual, and it goes over very poorly with her family. How that affects Lulu, her friends, the show and the story as whole is a bittersweet and compelling element most frothy, fun high school-based novels would avoid.
Saving Hamlet made me want to revisit Shakespeare, and maybe even catch a high school play. Though not a high school Shakespeare play. For that particular itch, I’ll safely re-watch the brilliance that is “10 Things I Hate About You.”