By Pamela Mingle
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 352 pages
Miranda is an aspiring actress, struggling to overcome the shadows cast by her talented parents, but then she is dragged into Elizabethan England by Stephen Langford. He claims to be a wizard of sorts, charged with the duty to make sure that Shakespeare reaches his true calling as a playwright. Miranda is to act as Stephen’s sister, Olivia. Her goal is to seduce Shakespeare, and somehow ensure he fulfills his destiny.
“His smell was familiar and comforting. Soap, sweat, a herb I couldn’t identify, all blending into what had come to represent my own safety and well-being.”
There are few pages for getting to know Miranda in present time. The story jumps right into the past, where Miranda must act as Olivia. This lack of characterization makes it difficult to see Miranda as simply herself, and the story slows down in an attempt to fill in the gaps. She does mature to become more likable by the end and Stephen becomes something other than abusive. Romance blossoms sweetly against life-threatening obstacles. Not all of the questions are answered, but if the reader is willing to let that slide, then the novel is otherwise well-written, action-packed and full of tension especially during the latter half. Kissing Shakespeare is crafted to be the story of a girl finding her niche while assisting Shakespeare in finding his road to stardom.
Reviewed by Isabel Hernandez