Book Reviews

Review: Roman and Jewel by Dana L. Davis

Roman and Jewel is a story dedicated to the love of theater, Shakespeare, and second chances. It’s a clever re-telling that asks us if we believe in love at first sight, the idea of reincarnation, and the very essence of love. Part of why I loved Roman and Jewel was Davis’ writing and the unique manipulation of the re-telling. Keep reading this book review to see what else I enjoyed.


Jerzie Jhames will do anything to land the lead role in Broadway’s hottest new show, Roman and Jewel, a Romeo and Juliet inspired hip-hopera featuring a diverse cast and modern twists on the play. But her hopes are crushed when she learns mega-star Cinny won the lead…and Jerzie is her understudy.

Falling for male lead Zeppelin Reid is a terrible idea–especially once Jerzie learns Cinny wants him for herself. Star-crossed love always ends badly. But when a video of Jerzie and Zepp practicing goes viral and the entire world weighs in on who should play Jewel, Jerzie learns that while the price of fame is high, friendship, family, and love are priceless.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: suicide of a family member, mentions of suicide

Having read Davis’ previous book, Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now, I loved the premise of a Shakespeare re-telling in the Broadway play. But Davis delivers a story that is even more than that. Blurring lines between our roles on stage, and our personal lives, Davis tackles issues of star-crossed lovers and the instant chemistry. Roman and Jewel are passionate Theater obsessed teens. Convinced that this Broadway re-telling will be their ticket to fame, they will discover something they never expected.

What we think is just going to be an on-stage re-telling of Romeo and Juliet morphs into a re-telling in the streets. This brilliant writing twist of Davis has Roman and Jewel explore themes of family, wanting to be treated like an adult, and how to fight for who we love. What may start off as a story focused on instant chemistry and romance, turns into a deeper exploration of what we would sacrifice for who we love. It asks Roman and Jewel, about destiny.


While I adored the writing, especially this double packed re-telling aspect, I found that some of the characters fell a little flat for me. I thought that there could have been some more depth in some of the side characters (especially because they asked interesting questions about fate and competition). Additionally, I felt like the pacing towards the end ramped up into a whirlwind of action. You could feel the pace increasing, especially as pieces of the story began to align, but the ending felt hastily wrapped up, to me.


Roman and Jewel morphs into a story about trying to listen to our heart, to our gut. To filter out the voices that want to distract us. The ones who don’t have our best interests at heart. Or the ones who think they know what’s best for us. As a whole, this book is fantastic for Theater lovers. What drew me, and still does, is the Shakespeare angle. It’s a book that will ask you about the essence of love. That will expand, explore, and open dialogue with Romeo and Juliet on and off stage.

Find Roman and Jewel on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite Shakespeare YA re-telling?

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