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Roman and Jewel: 01/09/21
Roman and Jewel by Dana L. Davis is a YA Broadway romance built around a retelling of Romeo and Juliet. Jerzie Jhames has been hired as the standby for the lead, mega-star Cinny. Playing Roman, is the talented and drop dead gorgeous Zeppelin Reid.
While the majority of the narrative beats in this romance are inspired by Romeo and Juliet if they were given a Hamiltonesque hip hop treatment, there's also a 42nd Street vibe, just on a slower burn. For Cinny to be the main foil between Zeppelin and Jerzie, she can't break her ankle in the first act.
Jerzie's time in New York, living with her aunt, reminds me too of the second book in the Better Nate Than Ever series by Tim Federle. Jerzie as a minor has fewer freedoms than the rest of the cast. Unlike Nate, though, she does have her parents' full support and has been studying music and musical theater her entire life. Her talents are a realistic mixture of drive and hard work.
Zeppelin Reid, meanwhile, reminds me of a younger version of Marcus Caster-Rupp, the male romantic lead in Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade (2020). I am currently reading Dade's book, so my impressions are based on reading the first half.
Regardless, I loved Jerzie's voice. I wish she hadn't let herself be baited as much by Cinny. But she is young — only seventeen by book's end. I would love to read about her further career when she's older and more experienced. She'll grow to have some fantastic stories about working on Broadway.