Saving Hamlet

Emma Allen is starting her sophomore year of high school and wants a complete change. Last year her family moved to Massachusetts, making her the "weird new freshman." She also quit the soccer team after a social disaster. Emma thinks a super-short "fairy supermodel" haircut and new life as a theater tech are the solution, but it won't be easy. She's stage managing her school's production of Hamlet, the director cast a first-time actor in the lead, and Emma's best friend, Lulu, is furious that she's playing Ophelia and not Hamlet. Not only that, Emma is dealing with two big life complications: romance and time travel, specifically falling through a stage trapdoor to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in 1601 London... where they all think she's a boy.

Author Molly Booth was a high-school stage manager herself. Her debut novel, Saving Hamlet, sneaks in some education, like showing how iambic pentameter helps actors learn lines. Mostly it offers a spot-on picture of the theater and how its cozy nest of friendships gets strained by hearts and egos. Emma also experiences some realistic crises as a smart girl who's dipping into the world of dating: "Was I really okay with a guy liking me because I had changed my appearance? Was this Grease or something?" As Emma juggles suitors across time and space and struggles to keep her play afloat, she starts to see herself as a lead instead of a side player in her own life. Saving Hamlet feels like one of Shakespeare's comedies--a few close scrapes along the way, but all in good, gender-bending fun. --Ali Davis, freelance writer and playwright, Los Angeles

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