What is it about the Romeo & Juliet premise that's just so darned appealing to us humans? Is it the forbidden love? The youth? The rapture of first love? The declarations? The defying of the parents?
Maybe I should say "to us female humans" because I know JRM declares R+J to be Shakespeare's weakest work. He much prefers Hamlet.
LTM: Whatever. Make up your mind already!
I actually saw West Side Story before I knew about R+J. I was about six years old, and we were on some beach vacation with friends of my parents. I remember my mom's girlfriend was so excited WSS was going to be on TV. She told me all about it and we were going to watch it together.
I must've been that kind of little kid, because I also remember my aunt being so excited about the two of us watching the Nutcracker on TV together one Christmas when I was around the same age. It was the old Balanchine version with Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland, and I think I liked it...
Anyway, I immediately loved WSS--the music, the dancing, the love story... (!) I don't know if I cried at the end then like I do now, but I do remember years later reading R+J and thinking, "Hey! This is just like West Side Story!"
So my reviews of Caleb + Kate by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma and Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles might be biased. They're both updated WSS stories, and both do a great job of keeping you going to find out if these kids are going to end up together or if one (or both) will end up ... dead--!
(Maybe THAT'S it...)
I'm pretty safe reviewing these guys together because seriously. They're almost the same book just written for different audiences. Both feature a misunderstood, Aryan female lead who falls for the dark, handsome bad boy.
But there are some differences. The covers might give you a clue: