Book Review: A Date With Darcy
By: Tiffany Schmidt
Published By: Amulet Books
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Page Count: 400
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Young Adult - Contemporary, Classics Inspired
It's been a rough few months for me. Work has been stressful and I have had some health issues that have included weeks of physical therapy, sore muscles, and headaches. I am super thankful that the fall that caused the issues wasn't worse, but unfortunately all of these issues have made reading and blogging a challenge. Reading also takes a back seat from time to time as my two year old clamors for attention. I am ready for the long days of summer that will afford me a chance to get back on track. This novel took longer to read than I would have liked, but it was no fault of the book. I truly enjoyed losing myself in this one. It's a must read for all those readers who have imagined themselves paired up with a book boyfriend or love a good Pride and Prejudice inspired tale.
Merrilee (aka Merri) Campbell is the sort of heroine I love. She is quirky and flawed, but likable. She is the sort of girl that I would have loved as a best friend when I was a teen. Aside from her lovable personality, Merri is a loyal friend, devoted sister, and bookworm. She was a girl after my own heart as far as her reading was concerned. The novel opens when Merri, Eliza (Merri's best friend), and Rory (Merri's younger sister) head to a prestigious private school. The girls must navigate a new social current.
Merri is thrilled to be attending school with her other best friend, Toby, and to get a fantastic education. She finds that her English teacher, Ms. Gregoire is one of the best parts of her new school. Merri is convinced that her teacher has some magic up her sleeve. Ms. Gregoire talks about books and characters as if they actually exist. As the class begins to study Romeo and Juliet, Merri is thrilled to study a story she considers to be a great romance, but when her own life begins to parallel the tale of the starcrossed lovers, Merri realizes that maybe the romance she thought she wanted isn't for her at all.
Once Merri fully rejects her version of Romeo, she begins to lose herself in the Jane Austen classic, Pride and Prejudice. As with the original, Merri isn't thrilled with her Darcy in the beginning, but overtime she learns that everything she thought she knew might only be an illusion colored by her own prejudices.
I don't want to ruin the plot, but I loved the dash of magical realism coupled with some beloved classical stories. I also loved the majority of the characters. One of my favorite components of the novel was Merri's relationships with her family and friends. The bond between her and her sisters was realistic and heartwarming. They may not always get along, but at the end of the day, the Campbell sisters always have each other's back. I also liked the positive friendships that Merri has with both Eliza and Toby. Furthermore, Merri's parents are on my list for best parental influences in YA.
There is also a healthy dose of girl power in this one. Merri realizes pretty quickly that Juliet lacks agency and a backbone; she has no desire to follow in those footsteps. Merri, unlike Juliet, has strong female role models and a strong support system to keep her on the right track. Merri is a much better fit with Elizabeth Bennett. Both of these leading ladies share similar traits and have a penchant for finding trouble.
Lastly, the humor in this one was enough to keep me smiling and giggling after a long day of work. Poor Merri finds herself in some pretty hilarious predicaments. The bathrobe and toothpaste moments cracked me up.
If you're looking for a clean teen read with lovable characters and literary influences, this is a novel for you. I know that there is a second book coming and I can only hope that it will focus on Merri's younger sister, Rory. I would also be okay with Eliza as the main character.
One Last Gripe: While I understood why the Romeo and Juliet segment was part of the novel, I found that section lasted longer than I would have liked. I preferred the Pride and Prejudice components.
Favorite Things About This Book: Merri's character growth and how she views romance throughout the course of the novel
First Sentence: "Merrilee Rose Campbell, what are you doing?"
Favorite Character: Merri
Least Favorite Character: Monroe
The first of two books in an intended paperback original series about a girl whose classic literary crushes manifest in real life. Merrilee Campbell, 16, thinks boys are better in books, chivalry is dead, and there’d be nothing more romantic than having just one guy woo her like the heroes in classic stories. She’s about to get the chance to test these daydreams when she, her best friend, Eliza, and her younger sister, Rory, transfer into Reginald R. Hero High, where all their fantasies come true—often with surprising consequences.