Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
This smart, gripping, sigh-inducing update of Romeo and Juliet takes on serious issues but still manages to be fun. Anyone But You is the third entry in the wonderful Twisted Lit series based on Shakespeare--each story is independent and doesn’t need to be read in sequence--and so far the books just keep getting better and better.
Gigi Caputo and Roman Monte are Chicago teenagers whose feuding families own Italian restaurants that are just blocks apart. No one remembers how or why the feud started, but the back and forth sabotage by some of the hotheaded younger family members has gotten increasingly intense. When Gigi and Roman meet there are instant sparks, but the authors do a great job of making their mutual attraction credible and something you care about by deepening their connection beyond initial chemistry.
Chapters alternate between the present day with Gigi and Roman, and the 1930’s-1940’s which is when their great grandfathers were best friends before the feud began. Like the other two books in this series, Anyone But You has a vivid sense of place, rich with details that set and individuate the times and locations without long paragraphs of descriptions to bog down the story. Gigi works at her family’s restaurant and you can see the checkered tablecloths, smell the marinara, and feel the heat of the kitchen. The chapters with the great grandfathers as up and coming young men bring their older Italian neighborhood to life, incorporating the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair and WWII into the plot and allowing us to see the world through their eyes.
The plot and characters take inspiration from Shakespeare’s play, but there’s plenty of innovation which kept me in suspense about the outcome. Magic isn’t part of the Twisted Lit stories, but there’s something magical about them. Maybe it’s having timeless themes in modern settings, or maybe it’s the writing which without being “pretty” somehow has a subtle glow that I can’t define, maybe something like a Rembrandt painting. In any case, I hope there is a fourth Twisted Lit novel, and I can’t wait to see which play is chosen and how the authors remake it.