Speak Easy Speak Love by McKelle George

Title: Speak Easy, Speak Love
Author: McKelle George
Published: September 19, 2017 by Greenwillow/HarperCollins

Six teenagers’ lives intertwine during one thrilling summer full of romantic misunderstand-ings and dangerous deals in this sparkling retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Noth-ing.

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. Be-atrice’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.

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So McKelle George is awesome for not doing just 1 of the Guest Post topics I had, but for doing 4 and rocking them. So I couldn't not include them all.

Character Spotlight

Okay, I know the obvious answer would be to do Beatrice or Benedick here, but I’m actually going to do one of my secret favorite characters: John. In the play, Don John is an archetype that Shakespeare later uses more fully in Othello. A villain whose nastiness stems from an unpleasant need to see everyone else suffer. In Much Ado, Don John tells his henchmen, “I am a plain-dealing villain,” and, “If I had my mouth, I would bite.” In my book, I wanted to explore John’s motivations. Why he is the way he is. Don John also has one of my most favorite lines in the play: “Let me be that I am, and seek not to alter me.”
His redeeming feature is that he doesn’t pretend to be something he’s not. He may not be charming or well-liked, but also he could give a damn if he is. He’s at the root of a lot of the novel’s conflict, but he also has a lot of depth—tenderness for Mag-gie, and loyalty to Prince. Plus, with John I got to explore the rise of organized crime and bootlegging in NYC, which is truly a fascinating piece of history.

10 Things You Don't Know about McKelle George

• I’m fluent in Hungarian
• I attended college on an art scholarship
• I once skinny dipped in the English Channel
• I learned to read with Hooked on Phonics (really)
• I have a big white German Shepherd named Kenai
• In high school, I used to sneak into abandoned buildings to watch horror movies with my friends
• I finished writing my first novel when I was 21, as a spinoff of a RP forum I’d cre-ated for me and my online friends
• As a kid, I was a book thief. I stole from libraries and people’s houses. I have since repented, but at the time it was really important to me to own books and my family didn’t have enough money to buy me any.
• My first fictional crush was Vegeta on Dragonball Z

Favorite Shakespeare Retellings
West Side Story (retelling of Romeo and Juliet); A Thousand Acres by Jane Smi-ley (King Lear retelling); As I Descended by Robin Talley (retelling of Macbeth); Exit Pursued by Bear by E.K. Johnston (retelling of Winter’s Tale)

Top Shakespeare Plays

1. Much Ado About Nothing (obviously)
2. The Tempest
3. The Taming of the Shrew
4. The Merchant of Venice
5. Titus Andronicus
6. Henry the IV, Part I
7. Twelfth Night
8. Macbeth
9. King Lear
10. Midsummer’s Night Dream

How many was I supposed to do, ha ha?

McKelle George is a reader, writer of clumsy rebels, perpetual doodler, and reference librarian at the best library in the world. She mentors with Salt Lake Teen Writes and plays judge for the Poet-ry Out Loud teen competitions (but has no poetic talent herself). Her debut young adult novel Speak Easy, Speak Love comes out from Greenwillow/HarperCollins in 2017, and she currently lives in Salt Lake City with an enormous white german shepherd and way, way too many books.

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• 1 ARC of SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE by McKelle George
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