Reviewed by Grace Soledad

When You Were Mine is the compelling story of a girl that Romeo should have ended up with. It’s a contemporary retelling of Romeo and Juliet and a light-hearted story with a sinister edge.

What if everybody’s favorite love story was wrong? Rosaline has been waiting for ages to finally admit her feelings to Rob but the last thing she wants to do is ruin their friendship. When Rob and Rosaline’s romance finally starts to heat up, everything goes perfectly. Until Juliet comes to town. Juliet – Rosaline’s cousin who she hasn’t seen in years – is back with a malicious purpose. When Rob ditches Rose for Juliet, Rose has to confront her own feelings for him.

Losing Rob isn’t the only hurdle in Rose’s path. It may have been love at first sight, but others can see what Rob doesn’t: Juliet’s disturbing behavior. Juliet’s back for revenge and will do anything to get it. Rose tries to warn Rob about Juliet but he’s hooked, and Rose worries that Juliet’s unstable tendencies will take them over the edge.

Rosaline is one of the most likable characters that I have ever come across. She has this inner light to her that just shines. She has always been a girl-next-door to Rob and she feels like senior year is finally her year to tell him how she feels. She’s not a loud character but isn’t quiet either. She is fun but thoughtful and her voice infused the book with a refreshing tone. The other characters were so tangled and lovely. Juliet was fascinating in a disturbing way and I found myself changing opinions about characters throughout the book.

Towards the end of the book, everything gets darker as we learn more about Juliet, relationships, and the family feud dividing Juliet and Rose. I second-guessed myself so many times throughout the book about the little things, but guessed what would happen in the basic story arc. The nods to Romeo and Juliet really emphasized the story and it made me see this traditional story in an entirely new way. There are so many interpretations of Romeo and Juliet and this one definitely ranks among my top ones.

Rebecca Serle has written a breathtaking book with alluring characters and an ominous plot. Somehow it manages to be both light in the overall tone with a plot that makes you question everything by the end. After finishing, I just had to think about it for a while. It played with my head in the best possible day and I love it. A sparkling debut.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Grace Soledad is a teenage bibliophile who runs the blog Words Like Silver. She is described as “antisocial” because she constantly has her nose buried in a book or a notebook. When not reading, she can be found dancing, writing, or at the beach.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon Pulse. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.