Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book Review: When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

Title: When You Were Mine
Author: Rebecca Serle
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Books UK
Publishing Date: April 26th 2012
Length: 334 pages
Keywords: YA fiction, contemporary romance, tragedy, star-crossed lovers
Source: Publisher

Rosaline has been best friends with Rob since they were little kids. Recently, something deeper and more electric has entered their friendship, and when Rob returns after the summer break and asks Rosaline on a sort-of date, it seems they are destined to become a couple, just as Rosaline always knew they would be. The next day at school, a mysterious, beautiful girl arrives: Rosaline's long-lost cousin, Juliet. And suddenly it looks as if Rosaline might be about to lose her best friend AND her new boyfriend…

Summary by Goodreads 

A new interpretation of one of the most read tragedies in the world? Yes, please! Romeo & Juliet was one of my favourite reads in high school and is one of my favourite classics in general. The two doomed lovers dying a tragic death. It was always a story I found myself fascinated by. So you can probably imagine how excited I was to read WHEN YOU WERE MINE.

WHEN YOU WERE MINE is an amazing read, a fabulous YA contemporary romance with just the right amount of tragedy, drama and love. Some of you might say that a story like Romeo & Juliet can’t be copied so easily or that another retake only promises to be tiresome. Whereas the story follows the main events of the classic Romeo & Juliet, in the end it is only roughly based on it. This time it’s Rosaline’s story to be told.

Rosaline is the girl no one has really thought about much, until now. Rebecca Serle chose the famous tale of the two Italian cult star-crossed lovers and transformed the story to California with a pretty impressive storyline in mind. I loved to find out what of the original story she decided to keep and in how far she adjusted single details, added characters or wrote riveting new dialogues.

The book is divided into acts and scenes just like the original play and based on various tendencies and main events of Romeo and Juliet. The names of the WHEN YOU WERE MINE characters are very similar to the original names like Rosaline Caplet, Rob Montag, Juliet Caplet. That similarity bothered me a bit in the beginning, because just from the sound of their names, I imagined the characters to be copied, too (they are really not!). In the end I appreciated even that tiny detail, the names, that led to an excellent new telling about that ancient love story. Or better, the story of the girl who got hurt in the process and forgotten over the years.

Without telling too much about the story, I can tell you that much about WHEN YOU WERE MINE. The focus doesn’t solely lie on one love story. There’s more to that book than Rob loving Juliet or Rosaline’s feelings for Rob. It needs some time to discover in which direction the story is headed and that was what made WHEN YOU WERE MINE such a spectacularly enjoyable read.

A major plus is that WHEN YOU WERE MINE is not all about love, but friendship, too. You can imagine Rosaline must go trough many hardships and it’s an invaluable gift to have friends by your side. I’m sure you’ll love her best friend Charlie just as much as I did and highly appreciate the thread of their friendship’s story.

Rebecca Serle wrote her book with the knowledge that her readers’ would be expecting a certain outcome or start into it with predefined pictures of the characters Juliet, Rob and Rosaline. Of course Juliet would be the innocently cute girl who captured Rob’s heart, Rob her knight in shining armour and Rosaline the jealous ex not worthy of an own story.
Now Rebecca managed to shape the characters in a completely new and exciting way and I admit that Shakespeare couldn’t have done a better job. I was infuriated with the irrational, immature and mindless behaviour of some characters, moved by the emotional conflicts other characters had to go through and simply enraptured by the true major love story that hasn’t been told all that time.

1) of an essential character addition to the classic Romeo & Juliet cast
2) there’s always room for a new seven
3) it’s not fate that defines who we are and what we do, but our own choices
4) of the things that might not be visible yet, but that have always been there
5) it’s an amazing re-telling of Shakespeare’s drama

5/5 ***** WHEN YOU WERE MINE- The profound and adorable Romeo & Juliet retelling I didn’t know I had always been waiting for to find, devour, and love. Rebecca Serle makes YA and Shakespeare readers’ dreams come true.

YA contemporary readers, there’s no way around Rebecca Serle’s debut WHEN YOU WERE MINE. This Romeo and Juliet retelling is inspired by Shakespeare’s story, yet bears ever new surprises and turns the story way round. Rosaline’s been the star all along! 

* Have alook inside WHEN YOU WERE MINE. 

* Listen to the WHEN YOU WERE MINE playlist

* Visit www.rebeccaserle.com for further information about Rebecca Serle and her books.

* Thanks to Simon & Schuster UK for sending me a copy of WHEN YOU WERE MINE for review!


  1. I didn't know this was a Romeo and Juliet retelling. Now I HAVE to read it. I love those!!

  2. Wow, beautiful review! I'm not sure why I've been avoiding this - I have a feeling it will make me weep! - but I hope I can get around to it soon. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

  3. Great review! I can't wait to get my hands on this one! People keep saying it's amazing...I'm going to definitely be a part of this amazingness. :D