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Literature / Star-Crossed

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Star Crossed is a 2017 work of Middle Grade Literature by Barbara Dee.

Mattie is a quiet, bookish eighth grader with a passion for Shakespeare. When it's announced that the Eight Grade play will be Romeo and Juliet, she's excited, not just for the opportunity to act the bard's words, but because she will be sharing the stage with Gemma Braithwaite, a girl for whom she may have more than just platonic feelings. However, when the boy playing Romeo drops out of the play, Mattie is asked to step into his role along side Gemma's Juliet, forcing Mattie to confront her crush and question her identity.

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The book has received praise from LGBT groups for creating characters for younger gay or questioning youths to relate to.


Star Crossed provides examples of:

  • Adorkable: Mattie, with her complete obliviousness to her own crush on Gemma, and her flustered reactions to interacting with her.
  • Alpha Bitch: Willow.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Mattie's little brothers, who are constantly playing Star Wars around the house.
  • Book Dumb: Liam initially seems to be this, but he turns out to be more insightful than he looks, and just playing up the dumb jock character for his friends.
  • Cool Big Sis: Mattie's sister Cara. Mattie herself plays this role when interacting with her brothers.
  • Education Mama: Mattie's mom has shades of this, worrying over her poor math grade.
  • Eureka Moment: In talking about Romeo's motivations with Liam, Gemma has an epiphany about Gemma.
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  • Gay Guy Seeks Popular Jock: Gay girl seeks popular girl.
  • High-School Dance: The plot builds up to the Valentine's Day Dance.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Mattie's description of her feelings toward Gemma: she isn't sure what her sexuality is, she just knows she likes her.
  • Junior High: The book's setting.
  • Lovable Jock: Most of the male characters fit this category, if slightly annoying at times.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Tessa likes Liam. Liam likes Lucy. Liam also like Gemma (maybe.) Mattie likes Gemma.
  • Popular Is Dumb: Enforced by Liam, who intentionally flubs the play and drops out to avoid being associated with something brainy like a Shakespeare play.
  • Romance on the Set: Implied, but never entirely confirmed whether Gemma returns Mattie's feelings.
  • Schoolgirl Lesbians: The whole plot. A rare, non-fetishized example.
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  • School Play: The main action revolves around one of these.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Obviously.
  • Teacher's Pet: Mattie is accused of being this by Willow.
  • The Bard on Board: Beyond containing a performance of the play in the plot, aspects of the storyline mimic the plot line of Romeo and Juliet: Gemma and Mattie are from different social circles which are at odds with each other, Mattie crashed a party she wasn't invited to and meets Gemma, a misunderstanding involving a note leads to a (much less severe) tragedy.
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