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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Review: When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

Have you ever wondered what will happen to Shakespeare's story if Romeo fell in love with Rosaline? Will it still end in tragedy like it did? Are we in for a happily ever after? For a Romeo and Juliet retelling fan like me, this possibility was enough for me to give When You Were Mine a try. And I was treated to a read that left me misty eyed and a little bit melancholic afterwards.

Title: When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle
Pages: 352
Release Date: April 2012
Published by: Simon & Schuster UK
Source: Publisher (Thanks, Frances!)
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository


What’s in a name, Shakespeare? I’ll tell you: Everything.

Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy… and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance.

Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends…

The greatest love story ever told was flawed, I think we all know that from the start. But what if we overlook these flaws and try to imagine it going the other way? In this Romeo and Juliet retelling, Rosaline has been best friends with Rob her whole life. And now that they're eighteen, they know something is going on between them. Something romantic, something that goes beyond simple friendship. But as love starts to bloom between the two of them, Juliet came. Rose's cousin came back to seek vengeance, and as the family secrets begin to unravel one by one in Rose's life, Rob fell for Juliet. And the tragedy starts from then on.

I have never paid much attention to Rosaline even in Shakespeare's work. But Rebecca Serle shone the spotlight her way and suddenly I couldn't stop myself from reading this tragedy told through her point of view. Rose and Rob were the best of friends, almost joined in the hip. They grew up together and everyone expects them to be together, even Rose. And who wouldn't like her? She was sweet and kind. Rosaline was looking for her faults rather than the things that makes her better. She might not be as flashy as her friends Olivia and Charlie but Rose has something special in her just waiting to be recognized by the right person, and she thought it would be Rob.

I liked Rob. His character started out as someone attractive, dependable, smart, kind and gorgeous. But I couldn't help but sympathize with Rose and what Rob has become made me feel so angry and yet sad at the same time. He was, ultimately, blinded by love to the point of madness. There were so many times where my heart ached because a character that held great promise like him should not be doing what he was doing. He will charm readers, and somewhere along the way he'll break everyone's heart but it won't be enough to make the readers hate him even in the end.

And just when I thought that this book only has heartache in store for the readers, there is Len. Exasperating and yet intriguing this boy is. It irked me a little bit how Olivia and Charlie were putting him off as a person who doesn't amount to much but I liked the fact that he was proving them wrong. He was proving a lot of people wrong. He was this person who was always on the fringe, never caring what people think of him and just goes on his own way to get what he wants, which leads him to be misunderstood most of the time. Marred by imperfection and yet he's one of the characters that shined the most in this novel. It's ironic and amazing how he knows a lot about Rose, and was there for the most crucial moments of her life when they're not even friends. Len is one of the twists in the story that made it all the more enticing.

It's never easy reading about unrequited love, and admittedly I pitied Rose at one point. She deserves to give her love to someone better. The hope and faith she had that Rob will one day look at her was admirable yet one of the saddest things in the book. But what made me like her the most? It's that she gave herself a chance to move on, to fall and stand up after. She was strong enough to move past Rob and Juliet, and no matter how twisted or how much of a tragedy Rob and Juliet's relationship was, she finally understood. They belong together. They just do. But does that mean Rosaline can't be happy? No. She was given her own happy ending, and through all the heartaches, heartbreaks, Rosaline found her own happiness.

The course of true love never did run smooth, and Rob and Juliet's were doomed to fail. There's a reason Shakespeare's play was called a tragedy. How do you get over the lies, secrets and betrayal? Sometimes you don't and even though I do not agree with how their story end, what made me adore this book is that through all the pain and the tears, there's something good to look forward to in the end. I will never get tired of reading Romeo and Juliet retellings, and When You Were Mine is one of the best I've read. Rebecca Serle gave this tragedy a different spin. Yes, tragic but hopeful. Intriguing and moving, the author was able to explore this possibility convincingly. To have loved and lost and still be able to stand and be brave to love again, When You Were Mine just grabbed my focus and I couldn't let go until the end. My heart gave a little lurch and a little shout the moment I finished reading.

If you are looking for a new contemporary YA, give yourself a chance and read this book. It's not just a tale of two warring families, it's a tale of growing up, of enduring friendship, family and forgiveness, and of love and the darkness that sometimes surrounds it. Funny and romantic, it's a modernized tale that readers will devour in one sitting. Rebecca Serle's writing will call up a storm of emotions in readers that will leave you conflicted. Even if you don't like Shakespeare, this book will make you appreciate not just Romeo and Juliet, but hopefully make you see Rosaline in a different light. Remember, it wasn't only a tragedy for Romeo and Juliet, but for Rosaline as well.

My rating:

Content (plot, story flow, character):
I find myself responding to a lot of the dialogues in this book. And I love Charlie so hard! I wish I had a friend like her too. Kudos, Rebecca Serle, When You Are Mine is now on my favorites shelf!

Stunning: Worthy of a Goddess' Praise!

Book Cover:
Both versions have gorgeous covers!


  1. I really didn't like this book. I found the characters far too vapid for my liking. I was going to wait until Juliet showed up before ditching it but I just couldnt force myself to read that far. :/

    =^.^= ComaCalm's Corner =^.^=

  2. Hi Vicki!
    That's too bad. I loved it though, though I seriously hated Rob at one point. When Juliet appeared it kind of pushed the story forward and made it better. :)

  3. hi kai tnx 4 the review

    i loved this book

  4. "The course of true love never did run smooth, and Rob and Juliet's were doomed to fail. There's a reason Shakespeare's play was called a tragedy. How do you get over the lies, secrets and betrayal? Sometimes you don't and even though I do not agree with how their story end, what made me adore this book is that through all the pain and the tears, there's something good to look forward to in the end." Oh, Kai, this is perfection. You could have put it any more beautifully if you tried, and... AH! Seriously, I die.

    I'm so so SOOO happy you loved it! It was such an utterly gorgeous book, SO heartbreaking. beautiful :)

  5. I love the original story, but this spin on it sounds amazing. I really enjoyed myself reading your great review :) It seems like Rosaline is a wonderful character: that she is able to move on is great.

    Thanks! I'm going to put this higher on my list :D

  6. This has such a seriously good premise. I'm glad you liked it. I love contemporary and I really have to give this one a read.

  7. LOL I've been reading your reviews and I don't know if all the books you read are just that great or you're just a really convincing reviewer. Great review!!


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