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When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

When You Were Mine

by Rebecca Serle

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Note: This is a short ramble. I won't be doing a full review :)

I was very disappointed by When You Were Mine. I enjoyed Rebecca Serle's most recent novel, The Edge of Falling, and expected to enjoy this one even more. However, I was very bored most of the time and, in my opinion, the writing was very bleh. Also, I feel as if the portrayal of Rob and Juliet was poorly done. I hated the way Juliet was blamed for the relationship. I won't be writing a full review as I feel as if the slew of other negative reviews on Goodreads adequately describe my feelings for the book. *sigh* What an interesting premise put to waste. If you want to read a book by Rebecca Serle, try The Edge of Falling or her future release, Famous in Love. ( )
  Emily_Anne | Aug 8, 2016 |
I just purchased this book for my high school library where I am the Librarian. I read it immediately, as I do so with every book that I purchase, so that I can make recommendations to my students. I was fascinated by the idea of Romeo and Juliet being told in a more modern setting that teenagers could relate to. I was even more fascinated with hearing Rosaline's side of the story as it has never been told before. For a ya romance novel, I loved this book! Everyone always focuses on the relationship between Romeo and Juliet, but what about those that got tossed aside and hurt by their decisions? Great story! ( )
  tsawyer5 | Apr 8, 2015 |
4Q, 4P: Everyone knows the story of Shakespeare's Rome and Juliet. However, not many people, including myself, ever remember Romeo's first lover in the book, Rosaline. When You Were Mine retells the Romeo and Juliet's love story through Rosaline's eyes. Note, some of the names in the novel were slightly changed (Rose= Rosaline, Rob= Romeo, and still Juliet= Juliet). I think there is a large appeal to spin-offs and retellings, so I believe this would be a pretty good selection for many of my patrons. I don't think it would take that much to sell it to them either. If they like love stories, heart break stories, the story of Romeo and Juliet, then this is any easy one to recommend.

I actually really enjoyed this book! It's probably my favorite that I've read all quarter! The fact that it is narrated by the girl that Romeo was supposed to love was a completely different take on the classic that I never thought of before (mostly because I too am guilty of forgetting poor Rosaline). Still the book does have it's slow moments. The review from SLJ points out that "The story moves towards the climax with sometimes
unnecessary detail to the mundane." This definitely worries me for teens, mostly because it may be hard to keep their attention with a slower book like this. They would probably find to be a bit tedious and would put it down, never to try it again. However, I also found out on SLJ that there is a film version in the works, would help to build some reader interest. ( )
  lmrayvon | Jun 2, 2014 |
Gentle reader, I wish to spare you my suffering. Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury this book, not to praise it. When You Were Mine is awful. It is not simply awful it is bitter, stupid, sexist, and above all a lie.

Actually, no. The worst part really is how grossly sexist and simplified it is. The author says she had her own heartbreak and "turned the experience into this book," which shows because Rose's bitterness is very authentic. There are times, brief and fleeting, where I could see the strain and want to sympathize with her.

Then we get to parts where the narration has Juliet admitting she stole everything from Rosaline out of pure jealousy, where Romeo--I mean, Rob--comes to her doorstep pleading that he's always loved her, but she turns him away because she now has a better, more sensitive and endlessly patient boyfriend? That is a pure revenge fantasy of a scorned lover. And I would enjoy reading a character coping with such a thing if the whole book didn't feel like it was justifying it and wallowing in it with its every paragraph. But others have better explained the pitfalls and failures in that sphere and I would recommend reading their reviews if mine leaves you unconvinced.

What I am offended about is that it is also a lie. Because the hook, the catch, this book's raison d'être is that this is Rosaline's untold story that was overshadowed by the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. And this, gentle reader, has nothing in common with Romeo and Juliet. And I don't mean it's not by switching locals from fair Verona to Southern California, mixing up the ages, or switching Romeo to Rob, and Montague to Monteg and Capulet to Caplet, I mean nobody has any resemblance at all to the play. Not even a pale attempt.

Rosaline had no lines in the original, so this would be perfect to craft a whole and unique voice, to recreate a character whose circumstances can cast the events of the play in a new light.

But she doesn't even try this tactic. Juliet, instead of a naive young girl, is a bitter overdramatic "slut" (oh yes, they use this word a lot) who makes Regina George from "Mean Girls" look positively endearing. She's crazy, she's emotionally manipulative such as threatening suicide if Rob breaks up with her, and she goes out of her way to be nasty to Rosaline for the perceived slight back when they were seven. Rob was always a well-mannered and level-headed boy, not prone to flightiness and expected to go to Stanford, until Juliet shows up. Then he becomes vicious and picks fights with people in jealous fits of rage. And instead of being completely fixated with Juliet he harbors feelings for Rosaline that crop up every so often when he's not being a massive jerkoff.

The tragedy of their families, instead of a longstanding blood feud that has been going on so long that nobody remembers what it's about, has been given a reason that is as recent as Rob's mom having an affair with Juliet's dad. This is so dumb because Rob spends most of the novel being in the dark about the feud's reasons. Juliet spends most of the book spiting Rosaline for the feud because her family apparently sided with the Montegs over hers, so she takes that as a reason to make Rosaline's life miserable and take everything away from her (okay, really, I have to recomment how sexist this is because you can't take a guy, he has the ability to choose!).

Oh and their tragic deaths, instead of being so in love (or at least so hormonally obsessed) with each other that their botched elopement ends in a lover's suicide, this ends with a drunk driving incident over the cliff. With plenty of suggestions that Juliet forced them to crash. This senseless death doesn't bring closure to the families or peace to their city. It's really just a last moment for Rosaline to feel slightly guilty and then shrug it off for her new love interest.

Honestly? I don't mind co-opting classics or subverting Shakespeare. He's not a sacred cow. The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is not even my favorite of his plays. I don't pretend it's a love story. It's kids, and they're stupid and reckless, but they're also sympathetic because they become aware that the feud is terrible (we see this because the first scene isn't them being so in love, it's how the feud permeates to even the unrelated servants). Their infatuation is what leads them to realizing how messed up things are and that's the universal feeling Shakespeare capitalized on, a passion being denied by hatred and circumstances they cannot fully change.

Serle didn't care about that. The tragedy is never truly there, it only serves as a tie-in to her novel because who would want to read something described as "scorned girl's burn book detailing the circumstances of her asshole ex-boyfriend and the crazy bitch who stole him away from her." A lot of people, possibly. But that's not the story she hitched her wagon to.

And when you misuse Shakespeare to deliver something as terrible as When You Were Mine?

( )
  gaisce | Sep 24, 2013 |
Sometimes a book calls out to you, be it for all the right or wrong reasons. When it comes to re-imaginings of age-old tales and classics of the literary pantheon, one must tread lightly, particularly when entering the realm of William Shakespeare. It’s important to remember the cultural and historical context of his work when applying it to a modern day setting. It’s possible to remain faithful to the source material while still adapting it to fit today’s moral & societal changes. A good example of this is the movie “10 Things I Hate About You”, a high school retelling of the very archaic “The Taming of the Shrew”. Said play is pretty misogynist, emphasising the important of subduing a woman’s fiery spirit in favour of making her an obedient wife. In “10 Things I Hate About You”, the “shrewish” heroine does not change for a man, nor is she forced into it. Their romantic resolution is witty, equally matched and doesn’t rely on either of them completely changing their personalities. I highly recommend the film if you haven’t seen it. However, today’s review is about a less successful Shakespeare modern day retelling. “When You Were Mine” actually manages to be just as, if not more sexist than the play it’s taken from, the ever popular “Romeo and Juliet”.

I have a big revelation for you all, dear readers. It may shock you, it may not (I hope not), but I’m sick of the world still living by this false assumption in 2013 and think it’s time to set the record straight for the good of us all.

There is no such thing as a slut.

Seriously. They don’t exist.

If someone calls you a slut, then ask them to define it. Usually they can’t, or the definition changes with every person you ask.
That’s because there’s no such thing as a slut.

The term “slut”, and variations on that term, are so casually tossed around towards women, basically exist to shame women for being vaguely sexual, although they’re just as commonly used as insults to women for completely unrelated reasons (wearing a low-cut top is tantamount to being the whore of Babylon according to some). Women are often depicted as being manipulative, stupid, malicious or just plain evil solely based on their sexuality – they’re evil because they’re a slut, and they’re a slut because they’re evil. Poor innocent men are snatched from their true loves by those evil sluts, who don’t have real human emotions like the nice girls, and leave men completely merciless to their slutty wiles. These women all look a certain way – usually blonde, wearing lots of make-up and revealing clothing, often compared to porn stars or blow-up dolls, frequently cheerleaders. Many jokes will be made about sexually transmitted diseases towards these sluts, although male “players” are clean on this front. More often than not, bad things happen to these women, but don’t worry, because they deserve it.

Remember, these women don’t exist.

I stress this because after reading “When You Were Mine”, I seriously began to believe that the author, a woman herself, hates other women, or had a cousin who seriously messed with her at some point during her life. In this modern version of the oft-imitated tale of star-crossed lovers, Rosaline is beginning a relationship with Rob Caplet (see what they did there?) just as her cousin Juliet returns to the scene and immediately snatches him away. Rob goes from being besotted with Rosaline to completely obsessing over Juliet, that slut. Juliet is, of course, a heavy make-up wearing spoiled brat with bleach blonde hair who snatches away innocent men and turns them into little lapdogs. But never fear, good readers, because underneath that harsh and fake exterior is a broken little girl who is just jealous of her plain but intelligent cousin, and will meet a tragic end that will be entirely blamed on her.

Do you see where this book goes wrong?

In “Romeo and Juliet”, Rosaline is never on stage, and serves more as a plot point than anything else. She is a means for Romeo to attend the Capulet family’s party and meet Juliet, his true love. A lot of great literary analysis has been written on her and I implore you to check some out because you won’t find any of that here. In the play, where Rosaline serves as a contrast and plot point, here she is the angel to Juliet’s whore. The naïve teenage girl consumed by first love in the face of petty familiar conflict has been turned into a slut, and later on a dead slut.

This is not okay.

There is literally nothing else to Juliet’s character except her evil sluttiness and the consequences of it. In this book, being a slut is literally described as being a defining quality!

"Charlie says there's a difference between being a slut and being slutty. She thinks Olivia was slutty for hooking up with the Belgian, but she would never call her a slut. Her theory is that the distinction is between how you act and who you are. Olivia's was an action, whereas Darcy's is a defining quality."

Charlie and Olivia are Rosaline’s friends. So there you go – good friends can be slutty but they’re never sluts. That’s for other women.
Juliet is entirely blamed for Rob’s actions, which is both sexist and daft. The last time I checked, men were autonomous creatures completely capable of doing as they pleased. Women can do that sometimes as well. By putting all the blame on Juliet for Rob’s actions (as if his penis just fell into her vagina), his responsibility is completely removed from him. He’s not a victim; he knew exactly what he was doing! Of course, in the end he tries to run back to the good and sweet Rosaline, but it all ends badly (do I even need spoiler alerts for “Romeo & Juliet”?) because that is the normal way of things. In 2013.

I actually have nothing else to say about this book because I can’t remember a single thing about it outside of the weapons grade level of slut-shaming. Taylor Swift looks like bell hooks in comparison to “When You Were Mine”. I honestly can’t get over how much this book hates women. It’s archaic and makes Shakespeare’s Elizabethan era play look progressive in comparison. At least in “Romeo & Juliet” the pair were supposed to be blind with infatuation and Juliet didn’t shove the poison down Romeo’s mouth. It’s not as if the original material is untouchable, and it’s not as if there isn’t great potential in giving some depth to Rosaline, but absolutely no effort is put into that here because the author is so concerned with demonising Juliet to the point of insanity. Take my advice and stick to the source: It’s better written, makes some sense and doesn’t loathe women.

( )
  Ceilidhann | Sep 20, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
I know there are lots of review out there of this book but this is my own version.

Well reading this book was an extraordinary experience I am glad I got this book for review. I have so much feelings about this book as I was reading this book some new feelings were created. I loved how Rebecca wrote the story of Romeo & Juliet in a new perspective or way which made me cry of happiness, sadness, and just be captivated by it. Let me start by saying that this book is my number 1 book in the whole world of all the books I have read. Not that I have read so much books in my whole life because I just started being totally obsess with YA books. But this book is amazing I loved most of the characters starting with Charlie, Olivia, Len, and the main character which is Rosaline or better called Rosie. There were so many events in this book that I can't really talk about because I don't want any spoilers I want you guys to check the book out because it was a new experience and terrifying, sad/happy book which made me cry smile all the way through the end.

Rob was my favorite character at the beginning of the book but at the middle of the book something (event) happened that made me change every feeling I had about Rob turn into hate or may I better say dislike because I don't hate anyone. Juliet was Rose cousin and at first I was like okay I new girl was just introduced alright but after I kept reading my feeling for her turn into dislike for every trouble she caused. Even though this two characters pissed me off I still loved the book and I believe is because of all the tension happening in the book and the dislike is what made this book and extraordinary experience which I absolutely adored. When Len was introduced I was like his probably ugly, rebel, and not sweet but as I kept reading my feelings for him changed and he became one of my favorite characters. Charlie and Olivia are Rose best friend and were always there for her throughout the book which made them also my favorite characters. Of course Rose was also my favorite character because she was the main character as I kept reading I felt like I was feeling the same pain she was feeling. But enough of so much talk about this book all I have to say is that this book is truly amazing I am not saying you would like because everyone has a different taste but in my opinion this book would be a number 1 book everyone should think about reading this year.

If your looking for a book to read I would recommend reading When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle and then tell me what you thought of it and comment and tell me what you think.

I would give this book a rating of infinity/5 by infinity I mean the largest number in the world which does not exist so this book is over the top.
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Seniors Rosaline Caplet and Rob Monteg, neighbors and best friends, have finally become a couple at their Southern California high school, but when Rosie's estranged cousin Juliet moves back into town and pursues Rob in an unstable, needy, and vindictive manner, Rosie starts to worry not just about Rob's emotions, but about his very life.… (more)

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