Shakespeare and Gay Rights - This Above All by Lindsey Culli ARC Review

Monday, October 3, 2016
This Above All by Lindsey Culli

Piper is already going behind her father's back when she auditions for the school play. Then to make matters worse she is cast as Romeo, a role her uber-religious father will most definitely not approve of. As to him, a woman playing a man's role in a play (a romantic one no less) is an act of homosexuality, which he considers, a sin against God. Piper is forced to decide between the religious beliefs she was brought up on, and the her newly developing opinions.

Synopsis & Details:

When sixteen-year old Piper is cast as Romeo in her school’s production, she’s as surprised as everyone else. Not only because she’s a girl, but also because she’s from one of the region’s most notorious ultraconservative families. But when the school principal demands that the part be recast read more... “appropriately” or the show cannot go on, Piper faces a choice: become the figurehead to appeal the principal’s decision or accept the message the administration’s ultimatum sends to the school’s gay students, including her new friends. Namely, that they should be ashamed of who they are or whom they happen to love.

Pitched as Dirty Dancing meets Saved!, when the daughter of one of the region's most notorious ultraconservative families is cast as Romeo in her school production, drama is sure to follow.

Title: This Above All
Author: Lindsey Roth Culli
Series: N/A
Publication Date: August 29, 2016
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Source: I received an arc from the publisher for review consideration (thanks Curiosity Quills!) this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

I requested This Above All from Netgalley because the synopsis intrigued me.

I found the story idea to be really unique, and I'd also recently taken an interest in theatre (Hamilton's to blame).

At about 10% this book really sucked me in.

I did nothing but read for a couple hours (this may have also constituted forgetting about my homework and staying up too late on a weeknight). While I didn't manage to finish This Above All that night (it got too late, and if I sleep any later than 1:00 am then I'm guaranteed horrendous suffering the next day) the first thing I did next morning, was to finish the book.

It was really interesting to see Piper's views change.

I've seen plenty of character development, but I hadn't seen one quite like this before.

I'm not completely sure whether the portrayal of Piper's very religious family is 100% accurate, being raised in a pretty unreligious atmosphere myself. It seemed a bit extreme in some cases, like the flushing people out of the woods with foghorns and flashlights. Though the anti-gay protests definitely felt realistic, and it really hurt to see her family treat people so poorly simply cause their sexuality.

The ending was a bit anticlimactic, I just felt it fell a bit flat.

(view spoiler)[Also Piper's father ends up giving a rose to her after her first performance as Romeo, and while that was an undoubtedly sweet moment, I didn't really see where it came from.] As for the love interest, I had a meh-ish attitude towards him. He wasn't too bad, except the part where he does some stupid things to supply romantic conflict.

Overall This Above All was a great, quick read.

The story deals with difficult and controversial topics without being too preachy, and has beautiful character development.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Have you read any Shakespeare? Have you ever been in or tried out for a play?