Walter Dean Myers, Author
Walter Dean Myers, Egmont USA, $16.99 (144p) ISBN 978-1-60684-115-0
Reviewed on: 02/21/2011
Release date: 04/01/2011
Given how often Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet has been reinvented, it's surprising that Bizet's famous opera has received little attention in the YA sphere (The Fortune of Carmen Navarro being a recent exception). Myers updates the classic story of doomed love with flair (and humor), moving the action from 19th-century Spain to present-day Spanish Harlem. The cast stays pretty much intact—sensuous, willful Carmen seduces a cop, instead of a corporal, before rejecting him for the flashier Escamillo, here a rap star/film producer. Written in script format like Myers's Riot and Monster, the story is broken up into two acts. The contemporary details will help it resonate with teens—instead of a smuggling ring, Carmen and her girlfriends are drafted to help pull off a massive credit card fraud. Bizet's opera broke new ground because it treated the emotions of its working-class characters with respect; Myers does the same. Though students unfamiliar with the opera may need some filling in, this concentrated dose of high drama is full of sharp repartee and would make a lively classroom read-aloud. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)
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