Emma Allen couldn’t be more excited to start her sophomore year. Not only is she the assistant stage manager for the drama club’s production of Hamlet, but her crush Brandon is directing, and she’s rocking a new haircut that's sure to get his attention. But soon after school starts, everything goes haywire. Emma’s suddenly promoted to stage manager, her best friend, Lulu, stops talking to her, and Josh—the sweet soccer player who’s been cast as the lead—turns out to be a disaster. It’s up to Emma to fix it all, but she has no clue where to start.
One night after rehearsal, Emma stays behind to think through her life’s latest crises and distractedly falls through the stage’s trap door…landing in the basement of the Globe Theater.
It’s London, 1601, and with her awesome new pixie cut, everyone thinks Emma’s a boy—even Will Shakespeare himself. Dropped into the middle of the original production of Hamlet, Emma gamely plays her role as backstage assistant, jumping at the chance to experience theatre history and rub shoulders with legends. But the Globe’s Hamlet has its own problems, and once Emma starts traveling back and forth through time, things get really confusing. In which reality does she belong? And can she possibly save two epically tragic productions of Hamlet before time runs out?
Molly Booth’s SAVING HAMLET is a delightful, dramatic surprise. The premise sounded fun, and I wasn’t expecting the incredible depth and emotion SAVING HAMLET captures. Friendship is perhaps the most prominent theme throughout, and Booth navigates the different characters (and timelines) expertly. No one is perfect, but Emma battles with seeing a character or two through rose-tainted glasses. On the opposite side, she also sees humanity and surprise in characters she never expected to, and she frequently must battle with her first (and sometimes second and third) impressions of the people around her.
Most notably, however, is Emma’s relationship with herself. She’s been abandoned and betrayed by friends, and she’s unexpectedly given responsibility she wasn’t anticipating. Though she begins believing a personality overhaul is due, she slowly discovers new facets she already has within herself. She learns to voice her opinions and to trust in her instincts.
With humor, excellent nuances of friendship, and a fun, light time-travel element, SAVING HAMLET is a touching story about finding your strength, standing your ground, and learning through the Bard.