Just Julian

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 10 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

Content Warning: Homophobic bullying and parents, Transphobic Asshole, Hate Crimes, PTSD, Self-harm, 

At first, I was confused why Just Julian and Romeo For Real were split up into two stories. It became clear by the end. They obviously compliment each other, but both characters focus on different aspects of their story and have different conclusions for their character arcs. 

Just Julian is not as exciting as Romeo For Real in the beginning, while at the end the reverse is true. They remind me a bit of the Rainbow Boys series - amplified angst and love with a bunch of different issues going on. 

I hate to say it, but I could tell this was a new author. It felt amateurish and not polished. BUT there's a ton of potential!! I really hope Harwood-Jones doesn't let the less than stellar reviews stop them. I'll be keeping eye out for more of his work. If you haven't, you should check out his website. https://starkisscreations.com/  

I can't say if the books are worth purchasing, but I can say the author is worth supporting. I think if kids are struggling with the same issues as Julian (PTSD, overshadowed by parent) or Romeo (clueless, closeted, surrounded by homophobes) that it's worth checking out. The reading level would be easy enough for middle and jr. high kids as an intimidating introduction to QUILTBAG content.
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I started Romeo for Real the morning after I finished Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and I finished before I got to work. That afternoon on the bus home I read this one and finished it before bed. Not only are these short works, but they are hi/lo novels that are designed for reluctant readers with easier language and fast paced as I found out when I got them from NetGalley*

It’s hard to separate this from Romeo for Real because they are the same story from opposite perspectives. I wouldn’t usually be mad at a decision to write like this, but the fact that they are separated into two books is frustrating. Neither book can stand on its own without leaving SO many questions unanswered and even together the two books don’t have enough character development to make them worth it.

These books have so much potential, but due to the lack of character development for the somewhat large number of characters, the fast pace of the book, and the heavy/personal subject matter it falls short. That being said Harwood-Jones included a line by Julian’s mom that did remind me that this genre in general has always been full of tropes and super-fast moving stories.

“‘Teenagers, so dramatic,’ Angie teased, a tear still in her eye. Julian shot her a look and she winked at him, leaning down to wrap him in another hug.” (Chapter 16)

I mean the actual Romeo and Juliet occurred in only four days (more or less) and this one takes less than a week. It doesn’t end in death like the original but it does have dire situations, confessions of love, and even mentions of marriage. It’s like COME ON you are so damn young.

The piece that I felt Harwood-Jones could’ve spent more time on in this book was the self-harm experienced by Julian. With it almost a daily occurrence (Google News search link) in the news cycle, and it’s almost dealt with in a passing comment here. I feel like Julian and Romeo could’ve had a frank discussion about it that would’ve not only given their characters more depth, but would’ve been an educational opportunity for young readers.

The other thing that really bothered me and I mention it above is that it was split into two different books. This is really one book with alternating chapters. I would rather read one chapter of each book than read the entirety of each book and the move to the next. This style would’ve made it a lot easier to empathize with Julian and sympathize with Romeo. It also would’ve made me less angry at the ending of Romeo for Real which ends a chapter before Just Julian and on a less than stellar cliff hanger.

Recommendation: Again, pass unless there’s something that really piques your interest. Don’t bank too much for the Shakespeare and don’t plan on super deep character development. I still think it would’ve been a better book if they were merged, but they weren’t so this is what you get. It also wasn’t clear which to read first and I got lucky. I guess it wouldn’t matter too much, but with this one going a little further in the story than Romeo for Real it makes sense to read this second.

*I received a copy of Just Julian from the publisher via NetGalley in return for my honest. No goods or money were exchanged.
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I am not ashamed to admit that I was drawn into this book by the cover and the idea of it being a bit of a Romeo/Juliet retelling.  I have always had a weakness for retellings of old tales and what tale is older than of the cursed lovers of Romeo and Juliet? And the fact it was a shorter story made that even better for me, no long tale to get tangled and lost in, no long drawn out complications to confuse.

However, I found myself wishing two things while reading this. One, I actually wished this story would run longer so that it didn't seem to be so rushed through.  Two, I found myself wishing for even a simple name change of the main characters, to give a little distance from Shakespeare's original.  I felt that this story could have easily been linked to Romeo and Juliet without having to retain the original names of Capulet and Montague.

This book ended up being not really what I had expected. It was a decent read, but not something I'd really read again or recommend. It just ended up being average.
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Oof. I will admit I enjoyed this more than Romeo for Real, but I chalk that up to having just that little bit more knowledge of characters' backgrounds and motivations.

These really would have benefited from being merged into a single book, perhaps with perspective shifts chapter-by-chapter (though I am forever a fan of not doing that). As separate books, there's just not enough information being conveyed for me to grow to like and care about any of these characters, even Romeo and Julian.
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I got an ARC of this book.

I am totally a sucker for Julian's smirk on the cover of this book. I am not ashamed to say I was drawn in by the cover. I am also not ashamed to say I was again tricked into reading a book that wasn't as enjoyable as the cover made me think it was. So please, enjoy the cover and prepare for some basic ranting to follow your long look. 

So the book is very clearly a retelling of Romeo and Juliet. If you are not sure what that plot is it is simple: two people from feuding families fall in "love" and in the end there is a suicide. I would like to point out that Romeo is much older than Juliet, she is 13 I believe it was. So gross. At least this book allowed for the boys to be similar in age. Julian is 19. I don't think Romeo's age was addressed, but he appears to be a junior or senior in high school. 

The basic plot of this book is Julian is struggling with "depression" (what the book says it is, when in actually he shows every single sign of PTSD, but you know what does it matter to get mental illness right in a book for a population that has high levels of trauma induced mental illness) while trying to finish high school through an online program. Julian has a large queer network that he uses for safety. His friends help him deal with his trauma both the stuff before the book and the stuff in it. He meets Romeo at a party his best friend is hosting. They immediately kiss. Within three days they have spent a night cuddling and have confessed to being in love with each other. Romeo comes out to his parents, confronts his homophobic friends, and even confronts his own issues with homophobia. Remember, this is in three days. The only character that makes any damn sense in this book is Julian's mother who points out that it has ONLY BEEN THREE DAYS. So while I really hate the timing in this novel, it is true to the source material. 

The characters are pretty much 2-D. The characters are flatter than Kansas and/or pancakes. The jocks are homophobes. The gender queer person "tricks" guys into sleeping with him/her (yes, that looks like a really transphobic way to phrase it, but this is how the author presents the character as switching between male and female at whim and there are even jokes about how the character for FUN "tricks" people). The trans girl that everyone keeps outing as being a "man". The lesbians that fall so in love they can't focus on anything else. The super hero mother/nurse. I could probably just keep giving one line descriptions and you could write this book outside of the really forced background information on Julian's father.

The book tried really hard to be more than it was. It tried to be a new book, but also be Romeo and Juliet. It fell really flat. It was forced, it was shallow, it wasn't worth the time reading. However the writing was really well done. Despite all the flaws, the word choice was always impeccable. The author clearly knows what they are doing, which only makes me that much more frustrated that this book exists. There was a lot of thought put into this book at one point, it shines through when Julian's life comes up. There are some really wonderful passages that show the author wanted to do so much. I don't know what got in the way. I want to see the book that this should of been. Maybe the book feels so flat and empty because it was split into companion books? I will investigate that thoroughly in my next review!

If you are triggered by transphobia (especially unaddressed transphobia), homophobia, or violence then be careful with this book. There are a LOT of flashbacks to violence and homophobia that Julian has faced along with some new attacks. The transphobia was out of nowhere near the beginning of the book and was never addressed again by any of the characters since it was transphobic character creation. The violence is mixed throughout the book.
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A modern take on the Shakespeare classic "Romeo & Juliet" told from the point of view of Julian Capulet.  Julian is a teenager that was treated like an outcast by his school, so Julian attends an alternative school to finish out his high school career. Julian's mother, who is lesbian, is an activist in the LBGT community and is always trying to get Julian to join in the cause. Reminding him that when she is gone it will be his responsibility to carry on in her place. Like most teens, Julian is a little embarrassed by his mother, but at the same time admires her. She raised him all alone.

Julian's life is turned upside down when, by chance, he meets Romeo at a friends party. He is immediately taken by how gorgeous Romeo is. He had never met anyone like him before. Though it seems that little time has past, Julian falls deeply in love with Romeo. Their story takes its tragic turn when Romeo's homophobic friends discover he is gay and show up to teach him a lesson.

Read "Romeo for real" for Romeo's point of view. I will not spoil the outcome of this book. Read it for yourself and see how this tale of star-crossed lovers ends.
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2.5, but it was cute.

Julian has been out forever, but traumatized because of homophobia. At one party he meets Romeo, whom he finds out to be part of an intolerant group, making everything come back to him.

This story is not only short, it's too rushed. Which is a pity, because I found it nice, the idea of twisting the Romeo & Juliet and writing a meaningful story to those suffering bullying for their sexuality. There are many side stories worth developing too but the way they were presented, they seemed more like examples than characters in a story.

It's even hard to discuss the main characters. Romeo seemed like a good guy, to a point I can't believe he'd be so aggressive against homosexuals. I did like that the author cared to write his redemption, though. Julian's journey was more complicated, he's truly scarred from the bullying he suffered at school to a point he stopped going and still struggles with classes. One win of this book would be that this isn't about coming out—it was never an issue for Julian—but dealing with the world.

In sum, I would have loved to read a fully developed book on this story but this wasn't it. 



Honest review based on an ARC provided by Netgalley. Many thanks to the publisher for this opportunity.
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In a nutshell, I thought this story had lots of potential that was not quite achieved. And to be honest, the number of LGBTQ+ characters for one small town seemed way out of proportion to the general population.

Perhaps because the underlying theme is YA and I don’t read many books featuring teens, or perhaps because of the very obvious play on the Romeo and Juliet theme, or perhaps the author’s writing style or his desire to pack every diverse LGBTQ character known to mankind into one short story, somehow it didn’t ring true to reality. It was okay, and I liked many parts of it, but it was a bit overdone in some of the dramatics and characterizations.

Julian Capulet is nineteen, but hasn’t finished school yet. He’s taking online courses because the bullying and physical abuse he suffered at school became impossible for him to overcome, but there’s one course left, and he can’t focus long enough to finish. When he gets stressed or depressed, he retreats to his room and paints. Well, it appears he paints—he throws paints on canvas in dramatic brush strokes. His mother seems to have a part time job and is an advocate—an OTT advocate—for LGBTQ rights. His friends are all apparently somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum: gay, bi, lesbian, trans, nonbinary, asexual, demisexual, and more. Given that so many teens in this story identify as non-heterosexual, the focus in the latter part of the story on the need to increase awareness of LBGTQ teens in the schools and stop homophobic bullying seems superfluous.

When Julian meets Romeo (yes, Romeo!) at a party and their attraction seems mutual, he’s at first distrusting since Romeo has been with the group of boys who’ve bullied him. But Romeo claims he’s different, and he and Julian become a couple. Julian’s mother very liberally lets Romeo stay overnight. Later in the story when we meet Romeo’s mother (Mrs. Montague) it’s evident that she’s not happy with the relationship.

Of course, there’s no smooth sailing for either young man because just when they think they are free to be themselves, Romeo’s former buddies show up and attack the couple (see blurb for more detail). As the story ends, the two have decided to fight for their rights by participating in a school rally organized by Julian’s mother (of course) and the mother of Julian’s trans friend. I suspect their relationship-building will continue in the next story as this ends on a HFN.
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This book describes the beginning and progression of Julian's relationship with a supposedly straight boy named Romeo. Julian comes from a background where he has people who are very accepting of his sexuality. Romeo must accept his sexuality while facing the fact that others will not. This is written as a twin to the book Romeo, and they should be read together, really. Both are short books, so length will not stand in the reader's way.
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This book, with it's accompanying book Romeo For Real, is geared toward the young adult who is not that into reading. These books are easy to read and won't take a long time (only around 168 pages). There isn't a lot to the world building or in-depth back stories for the characters but it was a really good story about Julian who is gay and has had a lot of problems with gay-bashing in his past. Then he meets Romeo, and yes, Romeo Montague, from Shakespeare.  Julian's last name is...Capulet. This book is the pov of Julian; his thoughts and actions about the time when he and Romeo meet. It is very sweet and has some hand holding. There is some violence and talk of sex and lots of diversity.  I think all these issues were handled very well. 

I enjoyed reading this book and would like to thank Netgalley.com for the arc of this book and Romeo For Real.
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This story is Julian's POV. After reading Romeo for real  Just Julian  comes next or in any order you like because that was not specified.
This one was better than the last Romeo for real, Here we see how Julian was able to deal with Romeo's closeted behavior and his crapp friends.
There are trigger warnings for the books(homophobia and bullying) and so i will advise people to read at their own discretion.
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Just Julian is a refreshing Young Adult book by Markus Harwood-Jones.
Set among the premise of Romeo and Juliet, this story tackles the affects of bullying, many of the struggles of young gay and lesbian people, unrequited love, as well as having transgender and gender-fluid characters. 
Julian left school after the bullying got too bad. After trying to kill himself, still depressed, he isolated himself and avoided his friends. Now he's just trying to survive the worst of his depression, feeling like he's one small slip from falling back into the deep depression again. 
Forcing himself to face his friends, he meets Romeo at a party and is unable to forget about their kiss. 
Romeo, meanwhile, is firmly hiding in the closet while he runs around with the homophobic bullies. Julian likes the Romeo that he gets to see, but struggles with Romeo's inability to do the right thing. 
In the end, Julian's feelings about living change and he's happy to be alive. And, hopefully, he can help others who have been bullied.
In Just Julian, Markus Harwood-Jones has created a wonderful tale that should be read by all teens. Bullies need to learn the true harm they do to others, and they need to learn to tolerate people who are different from them. And for those who are being bullied and feel so different and useless, there is a great message in this story.
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The companion piece to 'Romeo for Real', ''Just Julian' (also written by Markus Harwood-Jones) gives the perspective of the other main character In the story, Julian Capulet , 

I would definitely say that this is the stronger of the two books - and if you read both I would  definitely suggest that you start with 'Just Julian', which seems better developed, with the characters coming across as more believable and more fully realised.

Also, this side of the story has a more positive attitude towards LGBTQ+ people. Romeo's story does contain more homophobic language, attitudes and behaviour as others have pointed out, but personally I can see that this is in fact necessary to the tale, for Romeo's story to be realistic and fully understood by seeing the environment he grew  up in, the family/friends he grew up around and the effect that can have upon young people who are beginning to explore and understand their sexuality and gender. 

It might not be comfortable to read about what either boy has lived with, admittedly could be triggering for some who have been victims of homophobic bullying (also note mention of suicidal ideation in 'Just Julian'), however this is a realistic depiction of something which happens all too often in real life and the consequences for real people.

The stories together shine a light upon  real problems and encourage people to think, talk, seek solutions and come together to stand against problematic behaviours and attitudes, as we see as Romeo learns more about the local LGBTQ+ community. If these issues are never highlighted and put in the spotlight, we can't expect anything to change, So I certainly don't consider the depiction of the issues in these stories to be negative at all. Teenagers need us to be open with them, to not only talk freely about subjects such as sexuality and gender, but also to acknowledge the variety of attitudes which exist, dangers which lurk, people's potential, the unfortunate human tendency towards violence and the existing level of bigotry and hate crime in this world. 

Ignorance is not actually bliss, It's unfortunately often dangerous - and we need to recognise the difference between writing about something for the purpose of realistic potrayals of our society (with a hope for furthering understanding and betterment ) and condoning said attitudes, words and actions. That said, on its own , the story of Romeo does need clarification . .....hence my recommendation that both stories be read together in order to get the full picture. Perhaps it might be an idea to have them in the same volume, but certainly if used in a classroom setting both books should be used and much opportunity given for discussion around the books. 

As for the 'Romeo and Juliet' aspect, I still don't feel that it is either particularly well done, or indeed at all necessary,
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I had a hard time getting through this book. I found myself really liking the writing, but disliking the story. It's not that it was cliche, and the stuff about depression and anxiety was quite good, but there was just something about the pacing and the main character I really disliked.
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I enjoyed this series. It was a modern retelling of one of my favorite books. I think it’s a unique way of telling a story in a new way to make it relatable to younger audiences. Would definitely be a good compare and contrast in a classroom and just a fun read.
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This wasn't bad but unfortunately rather fast paced for me. I'm sure someone who is the more intended audience (someone who doesn't read that much and is a reluctant reader) would enjoy it a lot more than I did. I'm glad it and it's companion novel are books.
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So... this is maybe a 2.5 for me. As a hopeless romantic with cynical tendencies, I can now say that I preferred Rome's version, because Julian's felt a little less about the romance and more about the political stuff going on in his life, about accepting himself wholly and supporting whatever he believes in. He's a victim of bullying, of going through hell and back and fighting his panics about being so open and vulnerable. I believe in that line about one person being more in love than the other, so part of me didn't like knowing that Rome was more in love with Julian that he, him.

I did think it was interesting that he wasn't gay like Rome, but the slight drama that Paris added felt a little unnecessary. Like, the only thing she seemed to bring to the story was by being a 'better option' for him. Because this wasn't so romantic, I thought things could've been done a little differently. Part of me wishes the companion books had been combined because they both concentrate on such different perspectives, and I don't know if I'm a fan of the brush-overs. There were parts in Rome's story that were abbreviated that got the full attention in this story, and vise versa, and though I think it's cool, it still only works if you actually read both books. If you don't, then it just seems half done.

Overall, I don't think I'd recommend this. I thought they were both okay reads, but I personally feel like this story would've been better off if I hadn't gone in thinking it was a YA romance.
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The author of Just Julian and its companion, Romeo for Real, works really hard to present a story that is inclusive of as many LGBTQ identities as possible. For that, the story is commendable. However, owing partially to the fact that each was only 168 pages it felt like a lot was thrown into the story much too soon. It was inorganic how quickly and easily the two fell in love, proposed marriage, and the way everybody was able to overcome deep-seated biases and resolve deeply-rooted issues within themselves as well as between one another for the perfect happily-ever-after ending. If both books were one as a dual-perspective, it might have helped slightly, but ultimately, it felt contrived and too perfect. Young adults readers who are going through some of the issues within the book in real life might not appreciate the sugar-coating. That being said, I would still recommend the book to teens looking for LGBTQ fiction, and allow them to judge for themselves. I definitely did cheer for certain characters at certain times.
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This was a very important and relevant book.  Julian has to overcome so many obstacles just to live his truth.  Depression, bullying, abuse and trying to find all the reasons to love yourself when the World can't see your beauty is just heartbreaking.  Without his supportive mother, cousin and friends I don't know how his journey would have ended.  His passion is his art and he pours all of him into it giving him an outlet many people in the real world don't have themselves.  When he meets Romeo he begins to see the world differently.  With new hope and happiness love always finds a way to heal even the most broken heart.  Their story of being who they are in spite of the prejudice and ignorance surrounding them is inspiring and uplifting.  I loved Julian and his Romeo.
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Didn’t particularly enjoy this title. Too many cliches and generalizations and overall just not pleasant to read.
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