A Rose by Any Other Name

Shakespeare isn’t always easy to follow, so it’s no surprise that one of the Bard’s most famous lines is also one of the most frequently misunderstood. When Juliet laments from her balcony: “O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?” she isn’t searching for him in the foliage--she’s asking why he had to be Romeo Montague. Her embittered reflection continues into quite the speech for a thirteen-year-old when she argues (in iambic pentameter) that a name does not determine substance, much like a "rose by any other name would smell as sweet," and cannot define true character. Do you agree with Juliet’s theory or do you believe names have power? Center for the Reader is featuring books with a titular character that challenge the reader to ponder Juliet’s question: “What’s in a name?

Carrie book coverCarrie: by Stephen King

Carrie White may be picked on by her classmates, but she has a gift. She can move things with her mind. Doors lock. Candles fall. This is her power and her problem. Then, an act of kindness, as spontaneous as the vicious taunts of her classmates, offers Carrie a chance to be a normal...until an unexpected cruelty turns her gift into a weapon of horror and destruction that no one will ever forget.

Bill book coverBilly: by Albert French

French lights up the monstrous face of American racism in this harrowing tale of 10-year-old Billy Lee, who is convicted and executed for murdering a white girl in Banes, Mississippi in 1937. Narrated by an anonymous observer in the rich accents of the region, Billy is an unsentimental and ultimately heartrending vision of racial injustice.

Daphne book coverDaphne: by Will Boast

Born with a rare (and real) condition in which she suffers degrees of paralysis when faced with intense emotion, Daphne has few close friends and even fewer lovers. Like her mythical namesake, even one touch can freeze her. But when Daphne meets shy, charming Ollie, her well-honed defenses falter, and she's faced with an impossible choice: cling to her pristine, manicured isolation or risk the recklessness of real intimacy. Set against the vivid backdrop of a San Francisco flush with money and pulsing with protest, Daphne is a gripping and tender modern fable that explores both self-determination and the perpetual fight between love and safety.

Kim book coverKim: by Rudyard Kipling

Nobel Prize-winning author Rudyard Kipling set his final and most famous novel in India, where an Irish orphan becomes the disciple of a Tibetan monk while learning espionage tactics from the British secret service. A terrific choice for Kipling fans and lovers of exotic tales of adventure.

Maurice book coverMaurice: by E.M. Forster

Maurice is heartbroken over an unrequited love that opened his heart and mind to his own sexual identity. In order to be true to himself, he goes against the grain of society’s often unspoken rules of class, wealth, and politics. Forster understood that his homage to same-sex love, if published when he completed it in 1914, would probably end his career. Thus, Maurice languished in a drawer for fifty-seven years, the author requesting it be published only after his death.

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