Tempestuous by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes is a delightfully contemporary take on Shakespeare’s The Tempest and is an engaging addition to any young adult library. The island has been replaced by a shopping mall, and the characters are a disparate band of teenagers, but the plot is just as enticing.
After Miranda Prospero is blamed for a school-wide cheating scheme, she is forced to take a humiliating job at a mall food stand in order to pay for damages. There, she works beside sylph-like Ariel, a homeschooled student who is perpetually positive, and adores Miranda for her insights into high school life. On this particular winter night, Miranda meets Caleb, a dark and moody teenager who works at the mall’s magic shop. Wanting nothing to do with him, Miranda shows him her predictably arrogant attitude beginning an escalating tension between the two. As the snow falls down and the mall traffic all-but-stops, Miranda realizes that some of the only customers left are her former best friends, and ex-boyfriend, all four of whom seem bound and determined to make her life miserable, mocking and ridiculing her every chance they get.
Just when it seems as if the night cannot get worse, Grady, the security guard tells everyone that the mall is on lockdown; with four feet of snow expected by sunrise, it is not safe to leave the mall premises. What unfolds is a series of unexpected events (a bit too crazy to be believable, but fun just the same) with likeable characters, and intriguing parallels to Shakespeare’s original play. With a robber on the loose, a birthday that must be celebrated, and a pair of handcuffs that bind two unlikely friends, mayhem ensues. While the story in general is a bit predictable, it is a wonderful way to introduce younger audiences to Shakespeare’s works in an enticing and fun way. This may be the most enjoyable way to get students prepared for the coming school year.