On My Bookshelf: So Shelley by Ty Roth

October 19, 2015

The lives of the Romantics: John Keats, George Gordon Byron, and Mary and Percy Shelley are played out in present day in So Shelley by Ty Roth. Follow the adventures, romance, and teenage angst of three high school students based on the sometimes unbelievable, yet true lives of famous authors of the past.
Basic plot: Keats and Byron are trying to carry out the dying wishes of their high school friend, Shelley. Keats is a lowly underclassman with a blue color background, while Byron is a revered senior who comes from money. Keats and Shelley became friends while serving on the school newspaper, while Byron and Shelley were childhood friends and next door neighbors. After stealing her ashes from her funeral service, Keats and Byron make their way over to the island where Shelley drowned to spread her ashes there. While trying to keep a low profile to avoid Shelley's father and make it to their destination, the two share Shelley stories from their past.

Why I liked it: As I was reading, there were moments in the plot that I thought were over the top, but then I remembered that the characters were based on the lives of John Keats, Lord Byron, and Percy and Mary Shelley, whose lives were sometimes unbelievable but true.

The plot was a good mix of flash backs and present action, which kept you rooting for the success of Keats and Byron's mission. The ending seemed underdeveloped and could use some work.

Classroom application: This novel is one I would add to my classroom library. It would definitely hook students who read novels that I might classify as a little "trashy," but this one is based on the lives of real people.

This novel could be used as a fiction pairing to a poetry unit on the Romantics or a biography of any one of the four authors.

This novel could also be used as a mentor text to show how to take events from the past and insert them into modern times. Students could select other historical figures with interesting lives and write narratives of those lives playing out in the present.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of So Shelly for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

For more reading suggestions for students and teachers:

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