JOKER by Ranulfo is one of those books that, when I come to the end, I feel the need to go back and begin again. It is deceptively simple and incredibly complex at the same time. JOKER is, in some way, a retelling of HAMLET. The basic story is there: the main character's father is a "ghost" after being divorced by Gertrude who has now taken up with Claude. Lia (Ophelia) and Larry (Laertes) are there. Lia is in love with our prince of Elsinore who has his doubts about love and life. For those, like me, who adore the Bard, there is much to be mined from this slim novel. However, I think that kids who are unfamiliar with the play may not grasp all of the novel either. I think the novel might be a way into the play for some, but the novel is a demanding read, replete with conundrums, symbolism, and not a small dash of irony.
I think JOKER could be one of those books for the avid and gifted reader at the secondary level. I would also love to see it being used in tandem with a study of the play to see how kids react and respond.