The Modern Romeo and Juliet
Firstly, allow me congratulate you and thank God for giving you the power and the wit to produce such an amazing piece of art. It's art. What I've been reading for the past ten days was definitely art.
Read the story now
Excuse my long review, but I tend to be honest and thorough.
I honestly don't know where to start. The plot is amazing, creative, and first of it's kind (I've never read something like this before), and the way you dealt with each piece of the story is quite smart and funny. You know when to proceed through your story, when to give the reader a breather, and when to jam it with emotions that the reader feels overwhelmed as much as the character is.
Andromeda (I must say you have a knack in choosing names) is a complex character. She struggles with self-loathing and bullying due to the birthmark on her face, and she's satisfied with staying alone in her safe bubble without coming in contact with anyone, yet she's a talented writer, and a loving sister who came up with this idea to finish a life-long feud between her family and that of her sister's boyfriend, and this plan forced her out of her bubble. Nice job making your character uncomfortable with her own skin (it's a figure of speech.)
At first, when you showed how lovely Andy's family was and what a cozy atmosphere they make, I thought Andy was a strong female lead and has a good life, but it gradually turned out she was not. And this is good; the reality of her being weak is good; it's good to learn a bit more about the main character through each chapter instead of lumping everything you know about her in one go. This makes the reader eager to continue reading. Although, I'm a bit annoyed with the fact that I'm always not mentally prepared whenever Andy bursts into tears. The girl cries out of the blue and I always don't see it coming.
Unlike what you said in your final note about not trusting your characters enough, I felt quite the opposite while reading. It's like you gave the reins to your characters and let them carry on with their emotions and dialogue, although sometimes it got really witty (especially Andy and Dan) that I had to reread it, and other times it got really funny I laughed to my heart content.
Speak of the devil, I loved how you introduced Daniel T., and when he turned out to be a nerd I was so happy. It was funny watching Dan and Andy fall into rhythm and outsmart one another.
Controlling the pace of the story is a completely different issue. I felt how relaxed you seemed and it was comfortable the way you approached the essence of the plot and the backstory of the family feud. It was all in a slow and understandable and not a dragging manner. Seriously, NOT A DULL MOMENT. The nice thing is that there's a lot happening on Andy's side of the story that I wanted to continue reading from her POV (even if she wasn't the narrator, it was her story) and when reality downed on her and she had to direct the play, and when she first stood up for herself, there was Andromeda Sharpe at the beginning of a transformation process.
About Shakespeare and his play, you must love drama so much to be so engrossed in it. I've never thought of reading Shakespeare's plays but I understand the story of Romeo and Juliet. However, when I read it and learned about it from your POV, it amazed me how deep you delved into understanding every aspect of the play and choosing the right characters to play it. That, and the scene with Mrs. L was so creative. Actors and writers as well need to practice brain flexibility. The way you put each of your characters as a character from the play means you've created deviations and experienced different versions of the same characters. It's like creating new characters, and when you poured modern language into it, saying it's genius is understatement.
Of all the supporting characters, I loved Andy's Mom and Brian the most. The mother was so understanding, as she always made sure to get the point to her daughters without breaking them. Also, Brian's timing to come and rescue Andy was always the best, although I always wished it'd be Dan. But the story can't proceed without giving the couple a bit of trouble. There were several chapters I've read with a hollow pit in my stomach; I got too attached to Galaxy Girl that I felt every bit of her being throughout the story. How she struggled to make the play as perfect as she can make it, how hard it was to face Daniel with all the misunderstanding rising between them (even though she was dense about the fact that he was jealous) and how hard it was after her face-off with Sharon.
Which brings me to this; I feel that Sharon's backstory was quite abrupt. I understand that you had to patch things up between her and Andy, but when Andy apologized for slapping Sharon and the latter gave a satisfactory smile, I was ocked to find her crying and apologizing to Andy later. It would've been more realistic if Sharon was in almost-imperceptible shock instead of being satisfied with Andy's apology. Sharon was also living in a state of hatred that she had to blame someone for the things that happened to her.
But I like how things turned out at last; how Andy was finally able to forgive her rival, direct a genius version of Romeo and Juliet, and live the horrors of almost living such a tragedy due to her dad and Daniel's. Can I be proud of someone else's character? Because I'm proud of Andy.
About Mason Jar and Sweet Tea, I believe it's a nice add to the story, a sweet and smart short story, and another evidence that you're so good at juggling more than twenty characters in the same stage. The fact that some are based on real-life people is intriguing, this shows how much a writer can use from life instead of watching it move on through their window.
Technically, since I'm known for being a grammar police, there're few grammatic mistakes and punctuation mistakes. I've never read a novel (outside this platform) where exclamation points and question marks are used more than once or used together, although it's a pass in the case of Daniel and Andy's notes.
Again, excuse my rambling.
It's an amazing story, and amazing doesn't even begin to describe it. Honestly, you're a master of a marvelous stage, and I enjoyed reading your story and riding this roller coaster of emotions.
Your story deserves to be published and I hope one day to see it winking at me from my bookshelf.