Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George
Six teenagers’ lives intertwine during one thrilling summer full of romantic misunderstandings and dangerous deals in this sparkling retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
After she gets kicked out of boarding school, seventeen-year-old Beatrice goes to her uncle’s estate on Long Island. But Hey Nonny Nonny is more than just a rundown old mansion. Beatrice’s cousin, Hero, runs a struggling speakeasy out of the basement—one that might not survive the summer.
Along with Prince, a poor young man determined to prove his worth; his brother, John, a dark and dangerous agent of the local mob; Benedick, a handsome trust-fund kid trying to become a writer; and Maggie, a beautiful and talented singer; Beatrice and Hero throw all their efforts into planning a massive party to save the speakeasy. Despite all their worries, the summer is beautiful, love is in the air, and Beatrice and Benedick are caught up in a romantic battle of wits that their friends might be quietly orchestrating in the background.
Hilariously clever and utterly charming, McKelle George’s debut novel is full of intrigue and 1920s charm. For fans of Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Anna Godbersen.
I knew this book was going to be spectacular, but I was not prepared for this.
This book was Six of Crows meets Shakespeare plus The Great Gatsby. I have no clue how that even works, but OH MY GOSH IT DID. I’m in this stunned stupor from it. Everything about it was so good: the writing, the characters, the setting, the descriptions, the parallels between the original play. Everythinggggggggggggggggggggggggg. I never thought these words would ever come out of my mouth, but this book really makes me want to read Shakespeare again.
Where do I even begin? George has a wonderful voice. The writing in this novel was superb. I am in disbelief this is a debut novel, because it seems like this book came from a writer who had been knocking out books for years. She has perfected her art already, and she got me to read every little bit of this 432 page book. I will be buying anything from her in the future.
The characterssssssssssssssssssssssss. She gives us a large cast of them, and they were each intriguing, dynamic, and complex. I kept thinking, well, I only liked Benedict and Beatrice from the first novel, so I will only like Benedick and Beatrice here, but instead she gave us SO MANY TO LOVE. Prince, Hero, Maggie (I LOVE LOVE LOVE HER), and the delightfully complicated John. I was even invested in Claude, Dogberry, and Leo. This is where I get the SOC vibes from – George put that level of dedication and detail to each of these characters, making them feel lush and alive. I backed and rooted for each one of them.
George also did an amazing job between weaving the original tale and the new elements. I loved picking up on the little mentions of the story that she added in. Much Ado About Nothing is one of the only classics that I really, really enjoyed, and it is by far my favorite Shakespeare play. She took what made that story so great and then added her own flair. It was brilliant.
And the new setting? Omigosh, it was brilliant. One of the main reasons why I enjoyed The Great Gatsby more than the other classics was because it introduced me to the time of The Roaring Twenties. It was a time of glitz, glamour, new beginnings, shady dealings, crazy parties, and revelations. I truly felt like I was back in time with the ease and beauty that George created. She is a master of setting, and I was obsessed with this one.
AND CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE FEMINISM IN THIS BOOK???? Maggie, Beatrice, and Hero are some of the best YA heroines I’ve seen in a long time, and they are such great role models. Hero tackles double standards in the way that women are treated compared to men, and Beatrice and Maggie are sooooooooooooo kickass. It also celebrates female friendships in the best way possible, and it’s so rare that we see that nowadays in YA. Gosh, I love how much George focused on it.
And the shippppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppps. I loved every single one. In the beginning, Benedick and Beatrice were my favorite, but Maggie and John were my obsession. They had me longing for them together. Benedick and Beatrice do hold a special place in my heart, though. And whoever Hero is with is so much love, too.
This book was amazing. It’s been a very long time, since I’ve added a book to my favorites shelf, and this book did it without even trying. It took me a while to read and even though I didn’t pick it up for a long time at parts, it never bored me or made me not want to. This book is a favorite for so many reasons, and this is easily in the top 5 books I’ve read in 2017. Can’t wait to see what George does next! 5 crowns and a Tiana visit and a Rapunzel, Mulan, and Aurora rating!