I finished Spanking Shakespeare last night. I’m very fond of YA lit and am incredibly passionate about Shakespeare, so you know I had to read this book! It is about a high school senior named Shakespeare Shapiro. He hates his name and is certain that his parents’ goal is life is to make him miserable. Each senior is assigned a memoir project for the year, and the novel alternates chapters between his memoir and a first-person narrative that corresponds with each month of the school year. As you might guess from the title, Shakespeare is preoccupied with sex and is determined to finally get a girlfriend. Throughout the year, he grows from a self-proclaimed victim to a young man who realizes that his life hasn’t been as bad as he thought. I really enjoyed this book; it is very funny. According to Wizner’s website, the novel will be made into a film. I checked IMDb which lists it as “in development” with a release date of 2011.
This book had a lot of similarities to Geography Club by Brent Hartinger, which I also read during spring break. Russel is a gay high school student who is trying to hide his true identity from a student body that does not tolerate difference. Like Shakespeare, Russel has two best friends (one male, one female). They both find it difficult to be completely honest with their friends in the beginning. When Russel confides in his friend Min that he is gay, she reveals that she is bisexual and has been in a relationship for several months. They are shocked and wonder how many other gay teens are in their school. They want to start a support group but know they must keep it secret, so they apply for the most boring club possible so that no one else will join them. Both boys mature throughout the novels, but Russel never gains the confidence to come out of the closet. By the end of the novel, the Geography Club turns into a GSA, so there is hope that Russel and the other kids won’t have to continue living a lie.
Although Geography Club has an important message, I think Spanking Shakespeare is more well written. Regardless, I enjoyed them both and will add them to my classroom library.