Speak Easy, Speak Love

Speak Easy, Speak Love

by McKelle George


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Six teenagers’ lives intertwine during one thrilling summer full of romantic misunderstandings and dangerous deals in this sparkling retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

After she gets kicked out of boarding school, seventeen-year-old Beatrice goes to her uncle’s estate on Long Island. But Hey Nonny Nonny is more than just a rundown old mansion. Beatrice’s cousin, Hero, runs a struggling speakeasy out of the basement—one that might not survive the summer.

Along with Prince, a poor young man determined to prove his worth; his brother, John, a dark and dangerous agent of the local mob; Benedick, a handsome trust-fund kid trying to become a writer; and Maggie, a beautiful and talented singer; Beatrice and Hero throw all their efforts into planning a massive party to save the speakeasy. Despite all their worries, the summer is beautiful, love is in the air, and Beatrice and Benedick are caught up in a romantic battle of wits that their friends might be quietly orchestrating in the background.

Hilariously clever and utterly charming, McKelle George’s debut novel is full of intrigue and 1920s charm. For fans of Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Anna Godbersen.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062560926
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/19/2017
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 283,301
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.60(d)
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

McKelle George hated reading Shakespeare in high school. But then she spent a summer abroad seeing productions at Stratford-upon-Avon and the Globe in London. She fell in love with all the different ways the same play could be interpreted. She now lives in Salt Lake City, where she mentors young writers with Salt Lake Teens Write and works as an editor and reference librarian. Speak Easy, Speak Love is her first novel. www.mckellegeorge.com

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Speak Easy, Speak Love 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
DarqueDreamer More than 1 year ago
And we started off with a bang! Rum running, car chases, and gunfire, oh my! With such an exciting beginning I only wish the the book had kept the momentum. Speak Easy Speak Love was full of humor and intrigue, though. I loved the historical setting of the Roaring 20's and I adored the retelling of Much Ado About Nothing. It was an easy, predictable read. The cast of characters were cheeky, diverse, and highly entertaining. Beatrice's wit and sarcasm had me rolling in laughter at times. Benedick's stubbornness intrigued me to no end. I admired Maggie and her sense of self and hard work, and I loved how wild and quirky Hero was. Prince and John equally stole my heart and I just couldn't get enough of everyone! I loved the action and comedy, and found the romances to be mildly satisfying. I do wish that I had loved the book more. I had so looked forward to it, and I had put it off for far too long, being afraid that I would be disappointed. It was good, and definitely worth a read, but the pacing slowed down drastically after the beginning, and the story was super predictable. I'd rate it 3.5 stars.
SarawithouttheH More than 1 year ago
The characters did justice to Much Ado, especially, predictably, Benedick and Beatrice, but the rest of the cast as well. These characters truly felt, they made me feel, and they acted as though they were human beings. I loved every single one of them, and I never wanted to skim a page to get to my favorite POV. I didn't have a favorite POV, and for me that's a feat. I know Much Ado well, considering the fact that I was in it (as Hero), and I appreciated the obvious references like Hey Nonny Nonny, and the more subtle ones, like the conversation about Maggie not being a maid. The orchard scene with Beatrice and Benedick was perfection. It was just all so clever and the history was interwoven so subtlety, and that was impressive in itself. I was astounded reading through the author's note how much of the content I thought was from the play was actually also history. While respecting Shakespeare, the book took a life of its own and 1920s New York added to it--the time period and setting wasn't gimmicky, but rather endearing. I liked how we never got the guys' POVs, other than Benedick, so it wasn't for sure who the inevitable couples would be. I liked that some of the plot points from the play were switched around to act more realistically, like people recognizing each other behind masks and not making Hero as innocent so that it was more believable that she was unfaithful. I just loved all of this story, so much. I am so excited to read more from McKelle George, and I ardently hope I don't have to wait forever. But I would.
Rachelley More than 1 year ago
5 stars “I'm penniless, alas. If I win, I want a dance. If you win, I'll give you a kiss." "I don't suppose it occurred to you I might not want your kiss." "If you don't want it, you can give it back.” This book is by and far one of my absolute FAVORITES of 2018 Shakespeare can be hit or miss for me. Romeo and Juliet, for example, annoying the living crap out of me. Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, The Twelfth Night....these are my babies. Wit, humor, and massive confusion all resulting in a happily ever after is my dream book, and these plays deliver them all. So naturally when I find a YA retelling I'm all over it. And just like Shakespeare, some of these retellings are hit or miss. I'm pleased to say that Speak Easy, Speak Love is firmly in the hit camp for me. I mean, I even went to Barnes and Noble and bought a physical copy today, so there's that. I'm not going to get into plot here, because I think it's fun to go in blind to this one. This book is set during the 1920's Prohibition era, and it has all the charm and fun that the 1920's brings. It follows Much Ado About Nothing pretty well, but it has it's own twists and turns that make it it's own story. The wit and snark in this book is at full speed, and I love all the interactions between all the characters. Even our villain gets his own little happily ever after =) Off to watch the Joss Whedon version now. Oh, you haven't seen it? GO WATCH IT and then read this book =)
thebookishlibra More than 1 year ago
Speak Easy, Speak Love was just such a delightful read for me. It’s a retelling of one of my favorite Shakespearean plays, Much Ado About Nothing, and author McKelle George manages to capture all of the magic of the original play, while simultaneously crafting a fresh new story. If you’ve read the original play, you’ll be particularly delighted to know that not only does she have her own Benedick and Beatrice, but their verbal sparring without a doubt rivals that of their Shakespearean counterparts. I found myself laughing out loud numerous times, which is always refreshing. Aside from bringing to life new versions of my favorite characters, George also chooses a fabulous setting for her retelling, New York in the 1920s. The 1920s is such a rich and vibrant part of American history and I loved how George was able to incorporate so many important aspects of that time period. She seamlessly weaves in Prohibition and speakeasies, the Mob, the Jazz Age, and with Benedick in particular who wants to be a writer, she also touches on the rise of great American authors like Hemingway and Fitzgerald. I can’t recommend Speak Easy, Speak Love highly enough. There are lots of great shoutouts to Much Ado About Nothing sprinkled throughout the novel too, so before you read the book, I’d definitely also recommend reading the play or, even better, watch the 1993 film version where Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson play Benedick and Beatrice. So much fun! 4.5 STARS
BookPrincessReviews More than 1 year ago
I knew this book was going to be spectacular, but I was not prepared for this. This book was Six of Crows meets Shakespeare plus The Great Gatsby. I have no clue how that even works, but OH MY GOSH IT DID. I'm in this stunned stupor from it. Everything about it was so good: the writing, the characters, the setting, the descriptions, the parallels between the original play. Everythinggggggggggggggggggggggggg. I never thought these words would ever come out of my mouth, but this book really makes me want to read Shakespeare again. Where do I even begin? George has a wonderful voice. The writing in this novel was superb. I am in disbelief this is a debut novel, because it seems like this book came from a writer who had been knocking out books for years. She has perfected her art already, and she got me to read every little bit of this 432 page book. I will be buying anything from her in the future. The characterssssssssssssssssssssssss. She gives us a large cast of them, and they were each intriguing, dynamic, and complex. I kept thinking, well, I only liked Benedict and Beatrice from the first novel, so I will only like Benedick and Beatrice here, but instead she gave us SO MANY TO LOVE. Prince, Hero, Maggie (I LOVE LOVE LOVE HER), and the delightfully complicated John. I was even invested in Claude, Dogberry, and Leo. This is where I get the SOC vibes from - George put that level of dedication and detail to each of these characters, making them feel lush and alive. I backed and rooted for each one of them. George also did an amazing job between weaving the original tale and the new elements. I loved picking up on the little mentions of the story that she added in. Much Ado About Nothing is one of the only classics that I really, really enjoyed, and it is by far my favorite Shakespeare play. She took what made that story so great and then added her own flair. It was brilliant. And the new setting? Omigosh, it was brilliant. One of the main reasons why I enjoyed The Great Gatsby more than the other classics was because it introduced me to the time of The Roaring Twenties. It was a time of glitz, glamour, new beginnings, shady dealings, crazy parties, and revelations. I truly felt like I was back in time with the ease and beauty that George created. She is a master of setting, and I was obsessed with this one. AND CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE FEMINISM IN THIS BOOK???? Maggie, Beatrice, and Hero are some of the best YA heroines I've seen in a long time, and they are such great role models. Hero tackles double standards in the way that women are treated compared to men, and Beatrice and Maggie are sooooooooooooo kickass. It also celebrates female friendships in the best way possible, and it's so rare that we see that nowadays in YA. Gosh, I love how much George focused on it. And the shippppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppps. I loved every single one. In the beginning, Benedick and Beatrice were my favorite, but Maggie and John were my obsession. They had me longing for them together. Benedick and Beatrice do hold a special place in my heart, though. And whoever Hero is with is so much love, too. This book was amazing. It's been a very long time, since I've added a book to my favorites shelf, and this book did it without even trying. It took me a while to read and even though I didn't pick it up for a long time at parts, it never bored me or made me not want to.
YAandWine More than 1 year ago
SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE captured all the pizzaz and whimsy of the jazz age. With it's charming love stories, beautiful friendships, and delightful dialogue, I was utterly enchanted by this story. The 1920s is absolutely my favorite era to read in, so I had very high expectations going into this book, and it more than lived up to them. I always make note of quotes that stand out to me while I'm reading a physical book. Typically, I come away with about 10 quotes that I really loved. With this book, I walked away with 34. 34! The writing in this book is phenomenal and so entertaining, and the dialogue just sparkles with wit, spunk, and delightful banter. This book is a retelling of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING and centers around the convergence of six teenager's lives one summer. I fell head-over-heels for all six of these characters (as well as some of the more minor ones). I honestly cannot pick a favorite, because they are each so dynamic, entertaining, and alive. I have honestly missed them since finishing the book, and I can't wait to read it again when I get my hardcover copy. Reading this book was like hanging out with the most high-spirited, loving, and amusing group of friends you could imagine. MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is probably my favorite of Shakespeare's works, and this book captured so much of the spirit of that play but with a 20s era vibrancy that was original, beautiful, and captivating. This is without doubt one of my favorite books that I've read this year and certainly one of my favorite YA historical reads of all time. I cannot wait to see what this debut author has in store for us next.
ahyperboliclife More than 1 year ago
“The line between like and dislike is almost invisible when attraction is involved.” This was such a fun book. It was glitzy and charming and had all the whimsy you would hope for from a 1920s Shakespeare-inspired retelling. With strong personalities and insane chemistry, this story captivates you from the first page. Speak Easy, Speak Love follows the lives of 6 teens in the summer of 1920s New York as their lives converge in the rundown and past-its-prime Hey Nonny Nonny mansion, with it’s own struggling speakeasy. The group spends their summer trying to save the speakeasy and wonderfully misguided misadventures ensue. Things I Liked I really loved all of the characters in the story! They all have such strong personalities, and are clearly distinct individuals. I thought the story was incredibly well-balanced for having such a large main cast of characters. I really loved Beatrice - she was so inspiring! Along with the fantastic characters, the relationships in the story were so dynamic and vibrant! I love that the story focused on romantic AND platonic relationships. Yes we get amazing flirting and witty banter, but we also have wonderful friendships and found families too. And all of the relationships feel genuine. I love that we get to see characters confront the less glamourous side of the time period. We get to see how the characters confront racism, classism, and sexism in their lives. It created an earnestness and honesty to the story that was great. One of my favorite parts of the story was definitely the setting. Hey Nonny Nonny was an inspiring location! It was a home for the misfits and the downtrodden, and really because a character all on it’s own. Things I Didn’t Like Hero fell out of favor with me a bit in the last half of the story. I just started to like her a little less. I also felt like the other characters pandered to her a bit, even through all of the misunderstandings. This was such a bright and happy read. I had such a fantastic time. This might just cement the 1920s as my favorite historical time period to read. And I always love a retelling! Speak Easy Speak Love has all the shine of the 1920s to captivate you - the energetic characters and the lively setting all create a rich world you want to be a part of ! I received a copy of the book from Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Quotes are taken from an ARC and are subject to change.
Lauren817 More than 1 year ago
I don't know where to even begin with this review because this book - McKelle George's Speak Easy, Speak Love - is just amazing - so amazing that I can't even begin to form a coherent thought besides, "OMG EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK!" So lets begin with my favorite part of the book: Beatrice. You know what I love, truly 100% LOVE, in books? Sassy, strong willed, and too smart for their own good characters. The kind of characters who not only speak their mind no matter the consequences, but also don't let other people stop them from being 100% uniquely themselves. That, my friends, is exactly the sort of character Beatrice is, and honestly, I couldn't get enough of her. There's so much to utterly love about her - her love of science, her determination to be a doctor, her unwillingness to conform to social norms. She's the kind of person I aspire to be - fearless, spunky, brave. In addition to Beatrice, we also get the pleasure of becoming acquainted with 5 other incredible characters - Hero, Prince, John, Benedick, and Maggie - and while I didn't love any of them as nearly as much I loved Beatrice (sorry, she was an incredibly hard act to beat!) I did like them a whole heck of a lot. I especially loved how through them, McKelle addressed so many aspects of the 1920s - Jazz, mafia relations, organized crime, new feminism, and the new literary age. Each character brought a unique viewpoint of the time period to the table, and I loved not only seeing their thoughts on it, but how their respective stories developed because of it. I rooted for Maggie to get her big Jazz debut, for Prince and John to successfully avoid the prohibition agents and stay out of the mafia's way, for Hero to show that not only could she hold her makeshift family together but also run a speakeasy, and for Benedick to write the next great American novel. This brings me to another one of my favorite parts of Speak Easy, Speak Love: the time period. The 1920s is an era I'm simply obsessed with, and because of that, I welcome any opportunity to read, watch, and learn more about it. I thought McKelle Geroge did an amazing job of capturing the feels of the 1920s not only through her character's lives but also her fantastic descriptions & world building. The plot in this is also addicting. It's the perfect combination of character driven and action driven, having not only a slow, easy going nature but also a fast going one as well at times. I especially loved the drama surrounding Hey Nonny Nonny - I was never quite sure how everything was going to end up, which made some of the twists and turns associated with it's very existence so incredibly nail-bitting. Also, while I don't want to say too much about the variety of romances in this one, I will say this: I loved them so, so very much. They not only didn't have the classic insta-love feel but they also had the perfect endings. Beautifully written, feisty, and spellbinding, Speak Easy, Speak Love is a book you SIMPLY MUST have on your TBR lists this fall! I'm already planning on buying myself a copy so I can re-read it!
book_junkee More than 1 year ago
I love MAAN and I legitimately didn't need to read anything else to read. I loved this Beatrice and Benedick. Of course the rest of the cast of characters is fun, but I was obsessed with the banter between Bea and Ben. She's so smart and he's so stubborn and it was absolutely glorious. Plot wise, it was a slow and perhaps dense in a few sections. There are a few working threads of story that make it feel well rounded, but it's also a lot to keep track of. Overall, it was a fun read with a creative setting and characters I couldn't get enough of. I could have done with a million more pages of banter and it wouldn't have been enough, but the ending was perfection. **Huge thanks to Greenwillow Books for providing the arc free of charge**