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The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life – Dani Jansen

I used this book just a few days ago on my Top Ten Tuesday post, and I knew that I wanted to post a review for this one! If you haven’t been around my blog for a while, that’s ok! But you should know that I am a MASSIVE theater nerd. I knew just from the title that this book was going to be one that I loved!


Alison green, desperate valedictorian wannabe, agrees to produce her school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That’s her first big mistake. The second is accidentally saying yes to a date with her oldest friend, Jack, even though she’s crushing on Charlotte. Alison manages to stay positive, even when her best friend starts referring to the play as “Ye Olde Shakespearean Disaster.” Alison must cope with the misadventures that befall the play if she’s going to survive the year. She’ll also have to grapple with what it means to be “out” and what she might be willing to give up for love.


First of all, I have to say that I loved this book. I was just in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream a few years ago, and this book really nailed the details of the show, and also the craziness that goes into producing a Shakespearean work – spoiler alert, it not an easy task! I’ve also done some Stage Management work, and once again, that is SUPER difficult if you aren’t prepared for all of the work it entails! So super kudos to Dani for really nailing the chaos of producing a show!

I also really loved the characters. I have such a hard time finding books that depict Sapphic relationships (especially in the young adult genre). As a bisexual woman, this is something that is incredibly important to me, because representation matters! I think that Dani once again did such a good job with depicting a realistic young relationship between two girls who are still figuring out life. This made my heart so happy, and I wish I had had this book in high school.

The one, singular drawback that I had for this book is so minor that it hurts me to have to include it. I’m going to be as vague as possible, so as not to give any spoilers here. There is a certain aspect of the plot that was so intriguing to me, that I had never seen done before, and I LOVED the idea of it! I was so on board! However, it really only showed up in a couple of chapters, and it left be disappointed that there was such a wealth of opportunity here that just wasn’t utilized.

Overall, this book was STELLAR. I am in love with Dani Jansen’s writing. I am in love with these characters. I thought that The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life did a lot of things right, and it certainly made this queer, theater-loving heart happy!


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