The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
Hamlet’s life is just one unfortunate thing after another. It reminds me of the Jewish song sung at Passover, Dayeinu (meaning, it would have been enough for us). If God had only freed us from the Egyptians and not given us manna, it would have been enough – etc). If she had only been named Hamlet and her parents hadn’t been Shakespeare enthusiasts, it would have been humiliating enough. If her parents hadn’t been freakishly into living and dressing like Shakespeare but she hadn’t been given a gift of performing it, it would have been humiliating enough. If she hadn’t been given a gift of performing Shakespeare but hadn’t also had boy troubles, it would have been humiliating enough. If all that had been true and also her super-brainy 7-year-old sister hadn’t joined her eighth grade class and tutored her and her crush in math, it would have been enough. I liked her boy troubles and the resolution, and also how she and her sister actually banded together to get their revenge on the mean girls.
Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars
Moxie’s summer of freedom before high school exploring Boston with her best friend Ollie is turned on its head when she discovers that her beloved grandfather was involved in the infamous real-life Gardner Museum art heist. Worse still, someone is after her grandfather, Grumps, who’s now in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s, because he is the only person who knows the location of the stolen art. Moxie and Ollie’s quest takes them to some of Boston’s most historic sights – but rest assured that the resolution is pure fiction and the art heist remains unsolved.
I loved the balance of things that Moxie was dealing with – solving the art heist on her own before The Redhead gets her, dealing with Grumps’ bad days where he doesn’t remember who she is, and fending off her mother’s boyfriend who wants to marry her mom and move them all to New Hampshire. Also, even though Moxie’s best friend is a boy, there is no weird sexual tension (unlike Hamlet in the previous book). The adventure of finding the art gets very exciting and cliff-hangery and resolve in that neat and unrealistic way of middle-grade books – but not at all in a bad way. Moxie and Ollie’s adventure is a delightful childish fantasy of solving the famous museum heist. The mobster after her is named Sully Cupcakes, which is a call-out to Whitey Bulger, who recently came out of the woodwork and was on trial for mob charges in the 1970s, but predominantly known in this area. I also absolutely loved the relationship between Moxie and her grandparents, who are all SO Boston, and her trips through the city to the famous sites.