The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood

No one has really been in Elizabethan England, nor can recount the beauty of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. But novelist Gary Blackwood made me feel like I was drawn into the very moment when Lord Chamberlain’s company performed Hamlet for the very first time in The Shakespeare Stealer. This book is meant to entertain reader, while recount history as it was in the 1600’s. The group that would enjoy this the most is young adults. The story is being told by Widge, an orphan who “has mastered Charactery (page 11), or short-handed writing. He is reluctantly forced to take part in the play, and more maliciously: steal the play itself! Or else… his master’s command will be disregarded. Along the way, he makes friends with kids such as Sander and Julian who asks him questions like “Why did you run off like that? Is something wrong?” (Page 102). Now Widge has to make the choice between friends, or his cruel master, the right and the wrong. Some themes for this book are “Seeing is believing, Listen to your heart, Treat others with respect, and Believe in your friends”.


The method by which Widge narrates his difficulties is spectacularly done. His “voice” can be heard clear and loud. It’s like he’s actually talking to you! No matter what happens to him, he considers himself “fortunate than most other orphans” (page 8). This is proof that he’s not intimidated by anyone. According to the author, Widge is someone who wants to escape this torture, but finds himself unable to.


The Shakespeare Stealer is “perfectly paced with electrifying moments chasing each other like heartbeats”. Pulitzer-winner Gary Blackwood’s background of being a playwright has helped in establishing the theater as a perfect backdrop for the story. Like any New York Times bestseller, it fuses something of a love story, action, and tons of surprises and unbelievable facts like Widge’s master” is Simon Bashevi, and he’s a Jew himself” (Page 117).


The theme Gary Blackwood tries to emphasize is “Listen to your heart”. No matter what people might say, Widge always listens to his heart and inevitably makes the right choice. Its message gets to us through Widge’s choices. In a way, the book’s theme can be related to that of the Polar Express, which is “Seeing is believing”.


Overall, I’d give this 3 out of 5. It’s very interesting, with a topic most people would not give a second glance to. This can open another doorway in a child’s process of reading. The Shakespeare Stealer also has tons of suspense. One minute you’d think someone’s you’re friend, and the next minute, they’re somebody totally different! Though the book has many positives, it also has the same amount of negatives. At some points it was very boring that you felt “I need to throw this book for charity!” This risks readers to tell others not to read The Shakespeare Stealer. Additionally, they’re some parts that would only make your blood pressure explode. Widge claims to be a good liar, but he tells the truth on something that gets him into more trouble. Widge would additionally do stupid things such as “holding the playbook” (page 113) in an illogical manner. It was very irritating. If you love the theater, then go by The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood. Otherwise, don’t waste your time spending $6-$10 at Borders.





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