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Kissing Shakespeare    by Pamela Mingle Amazon.com order for
Kissing Shakespeare
by Pamela Mingle
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Delacorte, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Historical fiction about William Shakespeare is nothing new, especially tales where the main character is in love with him. Pamela Mingle puts a new spin on such stories in Kissing Shakespeare by focusing more on the social and religious climate of his era than on the great bard himself.

Miranda is the daughter of two great Shakespearean actors. So when she practically bombs her performance as Kate in her school's production of The Taming of the Shrew, she is miserable. Thinking she is alone backstage, she takes her anger out on the costumes only to find that a fellow actor, transfer student Stephen, is watching. What he does next, though, is enough to put her ruminations about her poor performance to the back of her mind. Stephen basically kidnaps her and transports her to 16th century England.

Stephen is from the 16th century. He traveled to the future to bring Miranda back to seduce Will Shakespeare, in order to convince him not to join the Jesuits. It seems that Will, while working as school master at the estate of Stephen's uncle, has become close to a priest in hiding. According to Stephen's prophetic visions, he is seriously considering joining the priesthood to continue his education. Miranda is not sure she believes Stephen, but the thought of kissing the great Shakespeare is rather exciting. She goes along with Stephen's ploy, pretending to be his sister while trying to get close to Will. What she does not count on is falling for Stephen along the way!

How history has become unstable is never really explained, although Miranda asks Stephen a number of times. What is explained in detail is the social and religious climate of late 16th century England, and that is where the crux of the story lies. So many Shakespeare stories focus on the bard's life in Stratford-on-Avon or his time in London, but Mingle chose to focus on the time he spent between his boyhood and marrying Ann, and what it meant to be a Catholic in Protestant England. The intrigue is good and the lessons Miranda learns about 16th century England, William Shakespeare, and herself are great for a YA read.

Kiissing Shakespeare takes a refreshing look at the young Will Shakespeare and the times in which he grew up. Pamela Mingle shows great promise as a YA author and is not afraid to wrap things up realistically instead of happily.

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