Hamlet Kennedy just wants to be your average, happy, vanilla eighth grader. But with Shakespearean scholar parents who dress in Elizabethan regalia and generally go about in public as if it were the sixteenth century, that’s not terribly easy. It gets worse when they decide that Hamlet’s genius seven year-old sister will attend middle school with her— and even worse when the Shakespeare project is announced and her sister is named the new math tutor.
Like any other 8th grade girl, Hamlet just wants to blend in quietly. That's hard to do when her sister is a genius attending the same middle school and her parents eat, sleep and breath everything Shakespeare. To make mattters worse, she is failing her pre algebra class, crushes on a popular boy who doesn't know she exists, someone is leaving mysterious origami pigs in her locker (could it be a secret admirer) and finds that she has a hidden talent that may not make her that far off from her embarrassing family. Hamlets English class is also studying Shakespeare, which in turn involves her parents and makes Hamlet want to hide even more.
Wow, there was alot going on in this book. I think those are only half of the events that happened! It turned out to be a fun, clean read and I ended up liking it. I also learned quite a bit about Shakespeare too. Readers will relate well to Hamlet and her feelings as the author painted a very close picture of middle school life and its tragedies. Well, tragedies to those of that age group. At first, I thought the portrayal of the parents seemed a little over the top. They would favor Dezzie over Hamlet and didn't get "it" sometimes. But then I realized what an important part it played in understanding family relationships and having communication. This was a main strength of the book along with finding acceptance within yourself, which I was happy to see. Hamlet eventually finds that she too can shine if she just opens up. It was nice to find a book that was a clean read and carried a message to the end. I think this is a "just right book" for grades 5/6-8.
Title: The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet Author: Erin Dionne Genre: realistic fiction Pub. Date: February 2010,Dial Books for Young Readers Hardcover, 290 pgs.