Sunday, 30 July 2017

Cova Reviews | Ronit & Jamil, by Pamela L. Laskin | 2017 Diverse Reads Challenge

Hello, everyone! And welcome to this review of lyrical narration Ronit and Jamil, by Pamela L. Laskin. I picked up this book for 2017 Diverse Reads Challenge for the month of May (it's July, I know - but I only managed to read it this month!). The topic for the month of May was:

Religious Diversity

and this book fits perfectly as it is a retelling of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet in a Palestinian-Israeli setting. 

"Ronit, an Israeli girl, lives on one side of the barrier fence. Jamil, a Palestinian boy, lives on the other side. Only miles apart but separated by generations of conflict—much more than just the concrete blockade between them. Their fathers, however, work in a distrusting but mutually beneficial business arrangement, a relationship that brings Ronit and Jamil together. And lightning strikes. The kind of lightning that transcends barrier fences, war, and hatred. Ronit and Jamil fall desperately into the throes of forbidden love, one that would create an irreparable rift between their families if it were discovered. But a love this big can be kept secret for only so long. Soon, the teenage lovers must face the fateful choice to save their lives or their loves, as it may not be possible to save both." (Goodreads)

I was so excited to read Ronit & Jamil - both because it was a retelling of Romeo and Juliet in a very modern and real setting, and because it was written in verse. Other than the typical books they make you read at school, I hadn't read a single novel in verse before. No matter my great expectations (or maybe because of them), Romit & Jamil let me down 😩 

As I said, I am by no means an expert in poetry - let alone English poetry. If I've read few books in verse, let me tell you the few I have read were not in English. Having made that clear, I have to say I don't enjoy lyrical writing with no rhyme as much as that with it. I know it's very common nowadays, and I accept this taste of mine may be because I haven't found the right example to base my opinion on. It may be that all rhymeless poetry I have picked up was not excellent and didn't catch my eye. However, Ronit & Jamil did not only lack the rhyme I longed for, but I found it was inconsistently written - sometimes the lyrical part got better (it did feel lyrical), but most of the time it just felt as if the author had written a very simple narration and decided to cut it down into random verses. Also, the words chosen were not beautiful, which I always expect in a lyrical text. I did like, however, the fact that the different parts were written in different verse types, and sometimes even intercalating viewpoints or conversations in just one line. 

About the storyline, I feel it could have been deepened on a lot more. It felt like Romeo and Juliet in a different setting (good job, mission accomplished!), but just that. No new points added, no personal mark by the author. It didn't feel like it was based on Romeo and Juliet, but that it was the same story taken somewhere else. 

I do appreciate, however, the topic the author wanted to spread - the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Because I have friends from both sides (though mainly from the Palestinian side), this topic is of great importance to me, and I think it's been left behind by some other maybe more recent events. The media are not paying much attention to this conflict anymore because it's been going on forever and the situation doesn't seem to change. But lots people are suffering - there is a true humanitarian crisis. Because of this, I would have liked the author to not just mention the whole thing, but to deepen further into it. I do think, however, that it gives a nice insight for people that just need an overview of the issue. 

Overall, I was let down by this book, which is a shame as the last three books I read I really enjoyed and I thought my bad luck with books was coming to an end. Fear not, dear Cova! I'm sure great books await around the corner for me to love :) 

I give Ronit & Jamil 2.5 out of 5 stars. I would really like to be recommended some very nice poetry for me to read - particularly lyrical novels. Leave them down below if you know any!

Happy reading!

Previous 2017 Diverse Reads Challenge read:

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  1. "Romeo and Juliet" in a Palestinian- Israeli context sounds like a really fascinating concept... it's a shame it wasn't done a bit better! :s

    Speaking of lyrical novels - have you read anything by Virginia Woolf? :) I think "Mrs Dalloway" and "To the Lighthouse" are fantastic poetic prose....

    1. It is a shame! But it was interesting to read nontheless :)
      I have not read anything by Virginia Woolf. Thank you so much for the recommnedations! :D

  2. Romeo and Juliet in a Palestinian-Israeli setting, and in verse? That's quite unique! Sorry you couldn't enjoy it more. I don't read a lot of poetry, so I'll leave it to the poet visitors to your site to make the recommendation. =)

    Lonna @ FLYLēF

    1. It is unique! Definitely creative. And that's OK! I'll have to do some research :)


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