The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone

A sudden trip to a seaside house. A boy with brown sugar eyes. And then , a mysterious letter.

Felicity’s glamorous parents have a secret. When they leave her with distant relatives in Maine, far away from the battles of WWII, Felicity hopes they won’t be gone for long. Her new Uncle Gideon hides things. Her Aunt Miami is star-crossed. And Derek, a kid her age, refuses to leave his room.

But Felicity needs Derek’s help. Gideon is getting coded letters from Felicity’s parents, and she’s sure they’re in trouble. Can Felicity crack the code, heal the family and save her parents, all while surviving her first crush? It’s a tall order for a small girl, but Felicity is up for the challenge.

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When you see this cover, it doesn’t exactly scream, “World War II Historical.” Nevertheless, I was drawn to it and decided to read this book when it first came out three years ago. That said, I do have to add that this cover is and isn’t misleading. It isn’t misleading because it is a middle-grade romance that isn’t as historical fiction as it could be until later on in the book. It is misleading because that cover actually doesn’t say WWII at all. If I just saw it in a library stack without having read it, I would’ve pegged it for a slice of life, contemporary book about a) foster kids, b) kids with disabilities or c) just typical middle-grade romance.

This book is definitely for middle-grade readers. Probably ten to eleven-year-olds will appreciate this story the most, and will be able to relate with Flissy as she goes through the story. Flissy has spunk, which I actually really do still appreciate in her character. She won’t take “no” for an answer, but in a good way. Not in an annoying way, like some characters do. I really enjoyed reading her narrative and even now it still makes me smile as I flip through the pages.

This is a really sweet, sometimes bittersweet, quick mystery read. There are lots of secrets that are slowly but eventually unfolded without making the reader wait so long that they begin to get frustrated.

I’m actually really happy with Phoebe Stone right now. When I was in my phase of reading these kinds of books, I was a huge fan of Phoebe Stone’s The Boy on Cinnamon Street and Deep Down Popular. I have to say, as much as I adored The Romeo and Juliet Code, it couldn’t beat The Boy on Cinnamon Street. Partly that’s because the story kind of left me wanting. I wanted to know what would happen to Flissy’s aunt’s romance and see if Danny and Winnie survive. I wanted to see Derek and Flissy grow up and see what would happen with Flissy’s dad. So even though I’m well past that phase now, I’ll be reading Romeo Blue soon, which is in my to-read pile to see what Phoebe Stone comes up with. 

If you enjoyed The Romeo and Juliet Code and Romeo Blue, you might want to try The Boy on Cinnamon Street. That one’s more of a middle-grade as well. If you’re looking to experience some of Phoebe Stone’s more YA novels, you should take a look at Deep Down Popular. 3.5 stars for this book.

pg count for the hardback: 304

Sequel: Romeo Blue

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