Jane Austen Meet Cutes Shakespeare: A Rosewood: A Midsummer Meet Cute Review

Rosewood: A Midsummer Meet Cute
Sayantani Dasgupta
Scholastic Press
March 7, 2023
Age: 12+

Eila Das, a Bengali American teen who prefers Shakespeare to Jane Austen, is known by her family and peers as the “sensible one.” Though she has a passion for acting, she pushes that away when her father dies to focus on what she thinks will be a more profitable career. Eila compares her love of acting and Shakespeare to how her father loved Shakespearean theater but indicates how he chose a career as an engineer to help support his family. Eila wants to become a lawyer and likes it that way, so she can help support her sister and her mother now that her father is gone. Her plans to pursue law are derailed when she agrees to attend a theater camp with her sister, Mallika, who submitted applications for both of them without Eila’s permission.

Much to Eila’s annoyance, the theater camp is no longer focused on Shakespeare but is instead hosting a casting competition for Rosewood, Mallika’s favorite regency era romance TV show. Eila reluctantly attends the new camp with her sister and ends up with the opportunity to be cast on Rosewood, but only as a minor character, due to that being the only option at the time for people of color.

The supporting cast of characters in this story complement Eila well, with one essential supporting character being Mallika, who is the opposite of the “sensible one.” She is a beautiful, free-spirited, emotional being who is obsessed with theater, drama, and romance. Mallika would be the obvious choice to be cast as the main love interest on a popular TV show because of her superstar looks and her lively personality, but she does not outshine the usually shy and rigid Eila. Instead, Mallika is a support system for Eila as they both process losing their father and as Eila learns to embrace her love of theater again as her priorities shift.

Eila blossoms out of her normal reserved nature as she begins to think more with her heart than her head and she even makes the casting team rethink who they want to see as one of the lead love interests on the TV show. Swept into a meet cute of her own, Eila begins to fall for Rahul Lee, a Bangladeshi Chinese Singaporean British boy who loves both Shakespeare and Jane Austen. With a budding new romance and a streak of rebelling against expectations on her mind, Eila becomes the new “it” girl when she lands the role of the love interest on Rosewood.

This face-paced, multicultural, young adult romance is a refreshing take on regency era love stories like Sense and Sensibility and comes with the dramatic tension of the well-loved book series and TV show Bridgerton. Rosewood: A Midsummer Meet Cute is a must-read for theater kids and the hopeless romantics who love an empowering story about a young woman of color who defies expectations, paired with the sweetest meet cute and an exciting conclusion that leaves you wanting more stories that challenge genre stereotypes for characters of color.

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