After earning a spot in a prestigious high school writing intensive, Jules wants nothing more than to spend her summer drafting incredible stories. But when she posts her first idea online, a mysterious collaborator named “Happily Ever Drafter” responds. Could this person be Ryan, a fellow writer and the twin brother of her best friend, Ivy? Could it be Calvin, her abuela’s cute new neighbor? Or maybe it’s Lucas, her childhood friend and fellow waiter at her family’s restaurant? As Jules writes, investigates and builds relationships, she discovers that love may be more complicated than novels make it seem.
Maria E. Andreu’s Julieta and the Romeos is a sweet coming-of-age novel that plays off classic tropes of the romance genre. Each Romeo fulfills a convention—enemies to lovers (Ryan), friends to lovers (Lucas) and the boy next door (Calvin)—but Jules is refreshingly aware of these roles and actively tries to see past them to the truth. It’s a task easier said than done, often leading to unexpected and humorous confrontations.
While romance drives the story’s mystery plot, Julieta and the Romeos is ultimately about Jules’ process of learning to take hold of her own destiny. As a child of Argentine immigrants, she feels a tension between her duty to her family’s business and her own dreams of becoming a writer. Her parents’ struggling restaurant challenges her to rethink her own definition of a “good life”: What does it mean that their dream (and, it seems, their relationship) isn’t working out? When is the right time to commit to a goal, and how do you know when it’s time to let go? Jules faces many choices, and she must learn to make decisions that reflect what she truly believes in, rather than acquiescing half-heartedly or under pressure.
Amid these serious concerns, Julieta and the Romeos remains funny, lighthearted and true to the rom-com genre. As Jules learns to see beyond traditional expectations about life and love, she discovers that she has the power to create the life she wants for herself. Her story encourages readers to choose the paths that make them feel healthiest, happiest and most at home.