Chapters 1-5 Summary
Sharon Draper's Romiette and Julio opens with Romiette's recurring dream. Deathly afraid of water, Romiette is drowning in her dream. As she struggles to surface, she feels the water pull her back down until she hears a man's voice. Just as it seems she is about to be saved, Romiette wakes up, sweating and disoriented. She is unable to go back to sleep; so she reaches for her journal and begins to write about her fears.
Chapter 2 features Romiette's journal entry in which she introduces herself and her family. She discusses her fear of storms and water and explains that while she took swimming lessons, she was always too afraid to let go of the side of the pool. A sixteen-year-old junior in high school, Romiette is independent, opinionated, and stylish: characteristics she inherited from her parents. Romi's dad, Cornelle Cappelle, is a prominent newscaster for the local Cincinnati TV station. Lady, Romi's mom, owns and runs an African boutique in downtown Cincinnati. She is known in the community for her regal, sensible personality, and she encourages Romi to explore her African roots.
After describing her family in her journal, Romi lists the features that she would like to find in a love interest. She is uninterested in most of her male peers because she wants someone who is curious about the world around him and who would be just as comfortable watching a hockey game as he would be attending a play with her. When Romi finishes her journal entry, she realizes how late it is and tries to go back to sleep.
The next day when Romi returns to school from Christmas vacation, she is eager to meet up with her close friends. Her best friend, Destiny, is positive, fun, and keenly interested in astrology. As she and Romi discuss their Christmas vacations, a fight breaks out nearby and the girls distance themselves from the foolishness.
In Chapter 4, Draper introduces the book's second title character, Julio. As Julio walks to school, he hunches against the bitter cold of Cincinnati's winter and laments the fact that he had to leave behind his hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas. He hates the drabness of his new environs and reflects on his sailing and swimming adventures in Texas. Having talked to his best friend, Diego, the night before, Julio misses his home and friends even more as he treks through the cold. When he reaches his new school, he braces himself for what is to come and enters. As he...
(The entire section is 669 words.)
Chapters 6-10 Summary
After Julio finishes his first day at his new school in Cincinnati, he trudges back home through the snow. His dad, Luis Montague, is unpacking boxes in their apartment when he enters. When Luis asks Julio how school was, Julio tells him that he hates it. He complains that there are no Spanish influences that he can see in Cincinnati, and his dad tries to encourage him that things will get better. Their conversation is interrupted when Julio's new friend, Ben, calls. While Julio is surprised at Ben's call, he is also glad to talk to him. Ben explains his constantly changing hair color and tells Julio that he would rather be out sledding in the snow than stuck in school. When Ben asks Julio about life back in Texas, Julio is happy to oblige him. He tells Ben about his love of sailing and swimming and that his family is from Mexico via Italy, hence his last name. Ben confesses that he does not know much about his family's history. He lives with his mom and sister and sees his dad occasionally. As the boys talk about their interests, Julio explains that he is interested in film and TV and would love to get a job or an internship at a TV station.
Chapter 7 features chat room conversations between several teens. Because the novel was written in 1999, e-mail, chat rooms, and websites were nascent and just becoming popular. While the conversation is listed next to the teens' screen names, it is pretty obvious early on that Romi is "afroqueen" and Julio is "spanishlover." The two realize that they have more in common with each other than with the others in the chat room, so they enter a private chat room. At this point, they do no know that they live in the same city or go to the same school. Julio and Romi do not exchange their names during their private chat but do tell each other a little about themselves. Julio describes the beauty of the Rio Grande and compares himself to a river, while Romi compares herself to a lake with edges, ripples, and possibilities. After Julio confesses his love for swimming, music, and authentic Mexican food, Romi tells him that she is one of the few girls in her class who even uses the Internet and that she loves writing and sports. Julio is surprised when Romi confesses that she is afraid of water and that she cannot swim. As the teens finish their chat, Julio informs Romi that he lives in Cincinnati, but she does not tell him where she lives. They log off after agreeing to talk again the next night....
(The entire section is 634 words.)
Chapters 11-15 Summary
In Chapter 11, Julio talks to his friend Diego who is still back in Texas. He recounts his online conversation with afroqueen and also tells Diego about the gang's approaching him in the bathroom. Diego's only suggestion is to run away from that kind of stuff, but Julio tells him that he does not have a choice since his parents decided to move the family to Cincinnati. As their conversation is ending, Julio receives a call from Ben on the other line. He tells Ben about the gang incident, and Ben fills him in on the situation at their school. He explains that because the guys who threatened Julio were wearing hoodies, they are the leaders of "The Family"—also known as the Devildogs. Ben ends the call by warning Julio to be careful because the Devildogs have quite a violent reputation.
Later that night, Julio returns to the chat room where he met afroqueen. After the two teens banter with other teens in the chat room, they once again go into a private chat room where Romiette explains her hesitation about continuing to talk to Julio. He tries to ease her fears by telling her his age and high school's name—Thomas Jefferson High. When Romiette hears her own school's name as well as Ben Olsen's name, she becomes more comfortable and admits to Julio that she goes to the same school. She then realizes that he is the same student who punched Ben on the first day back at school after vacation. When Julio explains the situation, Romiette trusts him even more and agrees to meet him in person at lunch the next day.
The following night, Romiette describes her meeting with Julio in her journal. She admits that she really likes Julio, that he is not like the other guys at her school. She and Julio had talked so much during lunch that they forgot to eat. But before she has a chance to call Destiny to discuss Julio, Destiny calls her, looking for details. One of the most important aspects about relationships to Destiny is a person's sign. She is amazed that Romiette did not think to ask Julio his sign and tells her that she must obtain that information as quickly as possible. She does not care a bit when Romiette tells her the difference in their races. To Destiny, astrological elements are most important.
In band class the next day, Julio informs Ben that he has met his Internet "queen," and Ben approves when he discovers that "afroqueen" is Romi. He encourages Julio to pursue the relationship.
(The entire section is 432 words.)
Chapters 16-20 Summary
After Romi and Julio meet in person, they chat again via Internet when they get home. Julio tries to discover if Romi just met him because she feels sorry for the new kid, and she quickly assures him that she enjoyed their time together just as much as he did. Romi then tells Julio about her golden retriever's puppies and offers him one. He has to check with his parents, but he misses the dog he had to leave back in Texas and promises to ask permission to adopt one of Romi's. As the conversation comes to a close, Romi discovers that Julio is a Pisces, and she lets him know that she is a Leo; Julio then promises to bring her a surprise the next day at lunch.
Julio is so exuberant after his conversation with Romi that he feels motivated to unpack his boxes. Since the move, he had not felt at home in Cincinnati, but with his developing relationships with Ben and Romi, he believes that something good might actually derive from the move. As he's unpacking, he finds a small stuffed lion that he had won at the state fair the year before and sets it aside so that he can give it to Romi the next day. He can no longer contain his excitement; so he seeks out his dad and tells him about Romi. At first his dad is unhappy that he is spending so much time in front of the computer, but when he finds out that Julio has actually met Romi in person and that she goes to his school, he feels better; that is, until Julio tells him that Romi is African-American. Luis Montague is not racist, but one of the reasons he moved his family away from everything they knew was the gang violence between Latino and Black gangs back in Corpus Christi. After Julio describes Romi a little more, Luis apologizes for his reaction and tells Julio that he will agree to taking a puppy if Julio's mom gives her permission.
After Julio and Romi's second lunch meeting, Romi once again journals about her experience. She realizes that her feelings for Julio are deepening quickly, and she loves the little lion that he presented to her at lunch. She confesses in her journal that she also gave Julio something to remember her by and describes her gold key chain engraved with her initials. Unfortunately, the teens' lunch was not without trouble. As they talked and neglected to eat, two boys known for being part of the Devildogs approached the table and just stared at Julio and Romi. They chose to ignore them, but they felt uneasy and believe the situation is only going to...
(The entire section is 684 words.)
Chapters 21-25 Summary
In Chapter 21, Romi and Julio have a phone conversation about their visit from the Devildogs. Julio describes his family's reason for moving from Texas to Ohio, and Romi is surprised to hear how bad the gang situation is at Julio's old school. Back in Corpus Christi, the gangs run the schools, and the tension between a Hispanic gang (the Ramones) and an African-American gang (the Black Daddies) was at all-time high when Julio moved. After the gangs had taken over the school, they would walk the halls each day, and none of the authority figures in the school would seek to stop them. The principal retreated to his office during the "gang walks" and pretended not to notice that his school was out of control. One day a teacher, Mr. Cordero, tried to stand up to the gangs and told gang members that they were not to wear gang paraphernalia in his classroom. Shortly afterwards, Mr. Cordero was killed in a car accident when his brakes failed. Julio tells Romi that everyone believes that the gangs were responsible but no one is willing to look into it. Romi is horrified and cannot stop thinking about the Devildog problem. Julio is certain that they are threatening him because he is new and Latino and promises Romi that he will protect her. After hanging up the phone, Romi's unease turns into a stronger sense of foreboding about the future.
In gym class the next day, Julio and Ben talk as they wait for their turn to play volleyball. Julio is nervous but also excited about going to Romi's house to pick up the puppy. When Ben asks him about his lunch "dates" with Romi, Julio describes their latest encounter with the Devildogs. After ignoring the leaders of the gang once again, Romi pulled out her portable CD player, and she and Julio spent the rest of lunch dancing on top of the table. By the time Mr. Prince showed up, everyone had gone back to class. Instead of being intimidated by the gang members, Romi and Julio can think only of their first physical contact from the dance. Julio held Romi's hand as they jumped on the table, and Romi later describes the incident to Destiny as a spark traveling between them. Destiny, of course, is thrilled.
Later that night, as Romi and Julio chat online, he confesses that he is nervous about meeting her parents. Romi tells him that he has nothing to worry about. Both teens have good relationships with their parents and respect them. Julio fears that Romi will think that he is a "mama's boy," but...
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Chapters 26-30 Summary
After school, Destiny visits Romi, who is still upset about her dream. Destiny, who attributes great significance to dreams, tries to interpret the dream as Julio saving Romi. Romi is still unsettled but turns the conversation to her excitement over Julio coming to her house on Sunday. While Romi and her friend discuss Julio's visit, Julio talks to his mom about Romiette. Mrs. Montague shares a close relationship with her son and Julio knows that he can confide in her without her judging him. She encourages his relationship with Romi and promises him that the Cappelles will like him if they raised their daughter to be such a fine young lady.
At school, Ben and Julio talk between classes. Julio tells Ben about his upcoming meeting with Romi's parents and Ben attempts to lighten his mood. He and Julio laugh at the ditzy mistakes that Mr. Cappelle's co-anchor, Nannette, makes each night on the local news. Ben tells Julio that he might even be able to get a job at the TV station with Mr. Cappelle if things go well during their meeting. Julio, though, is more concerned about his relationship with Romi and making a good impression.
In Chapter 29, Malaka stops Romi as she hurries to lunch. She warns Romi that she has stirred up trouble with the Devildogs because of her relationship with Julio. Romi cannot understand why it is anyone else's business, but Malaka explains that "The Family" does not like its "sister" talking to someone from a different ethnicity. Romi is furious and scared, especially when Malaka tells her that she had better not be alone in the bathroom or other secluded spaces. The Devildogs do not want to hurt her, but if she refuses to comply with their forced segregation, Romi will be off their "list" of protected individuals. Malaka ends the conversation by saying, "That Mexican ain't got a chance." When Romi tries to explain that Julio is American, not Mexican, Malaka ignores her and walks away.
Later at lunch, Romi tells Ben and Julio about Malaka's threat, and Julio wonders if the gang's plan is to jump him at school. As always, Ben is good for cheering up those around him and diverts their attention to the puppy and Julio's meeting Romi's parents. Romi tells Julio that her mother is excited about meeting him, and Julio agrees that his mom is also very positive about the situation.
(The entire section is 404 words.)
Chapters 31-35 Summary
The night before Romi has planned for Julio to come over to choose his puppy, she invites Destiny to stay with her. The two plan to pick an outfit for Romi's "date" and then to try out "The Scientific Soul Mate System" which Destiny has finally received in the mail. After chatting with Mrs. Cappelle, Destiny hurries up to Romi's room where she and Romi discuss the latest in the situation with the Devildogs. Romi tells Destiny about Malaka Grimes's warning and cannot understand why the Devildogs care whom she befriends. Destiny tries to encourage her friend but does warn her that because the stars show that Julio is "made up of fire," Romi needs to be careful because of her astrological connection to water.
On the same night, the situation is much more tense at Julio's apartment. When he returns from running to the store for his mom, his dad begins to question him about Romi. Mr. Montague confesses to Julio that he is not pleased with his decision to spend more time with Romi. Julio is furious when his dad tries to forbid him from seeing her and points out his father's prejudice. Mr. Montague confesses that he might be prejudiced but tries to explain his feelings by recounting a story from his youth. When he was fifteen, Mr. Montague was walking with his girlfriend Angelina. Suddenly, a car full of loud, drunk youths drove by and shouted at the couple and then began to pursue them as they ran across a field. When Angelina tripped and fell to the ground, the young men ran over her, killing her before Mr. Montague even had a chance to help her. Because all of the guys in the car were African-American, Mr. Montague has since been wary of African-Americans. He warns Julio that Romi could be involved in gangs, and no matter how much Julio tries to convince his father otherwise, Mr. Montague will not listen. At this point, Julio does not feel that he can tell his father about the trouble at school with the Devildogs because his dad will just assume that Romi is part of the problem. Instead of confiding in his dad, Julio storms off to his room and cranks up his music.
Back at Romi's house, after darkness has fallen, Romi and Destiny open up the Scientific Soul Mate System and survey its parts. Romi skeptically looks over their purchase while Destiny excitedly displays each element, from the specially scented candle to the ointment that one is to rub on her temples before drifting off to sleep. As the girls begin to play the...
(The entire section is 926 words.)
Chapters 36-40 Summary
Chapter 36 features a brief news segment from Mr. Cappelle's broadcast. The chapter serves to highlight Mr. Cappelle's professionalism versus his co-anchor Nannette's silliness and to inform the audience that the news station will be completing and airing an investigative segment on gangs in Cincinnati. The purpose of the report is to discover whether gangs are truly an issue in the city, and Nannette ironically comments that she cannot believe that Cincinnati has any such problems.
Chapter 37 returns the novel's focus to the teens. As Destiny, Ben, Romi, and Julio meet for lunch, a connection seems to be forming between Ben and Destiny. After all, he does possess many of her soul mate's characteristics. After talking about the puppy and Destiny's star predictions, the teens begin to discuss seriously the dangerous situation with the Devildogs. They are opposed to telling a teacher or another school official because of what happened at Julio's school in Texas. Destiny has a more ingenious, though dangerous, solution. She reminds everyone of Romi's dad's upcoming report on gangs in Cincinnati and believes that she has a way to use the report to their advantage. She suggests that Ben contact Mr. Cappelle and inform him of the situation with the Devildogs controlling their school. Her plan includes secretly filming the gang threatening Romi and Julio, but she is not sure how that would work. Obviously, Mr. Cappelle would never agree to using his daughter as a pawn in a dangerous investigation. Ben then suggests using his minicam to film the Devildogs. The teens agree that this is an effective solution and plot to lure the Devildogs into their trap by loudly talking about Romi and Julio's plan to walk by London Woods again that evening. As they leave their lunch table, they make sure that the Devildogs hear Destiny as she practically shouts where Romi will be later in the evening.
After school that evening, Romi's anxiety increases when her mother does not leave for her store at the normal time. Romi had planned for Julio, Ben, and Destiny to come over after her mother left. However, Julio arrives before Mrs. Cappelle leaves, and Romi tells her mom that they are going to work on homework together. While Mrs. Cappelle trusts her daughter, she is not naive about teens and tells Romi that she and Julio should not be alone in the house for long. After Mrs. Cappelle heads to work, Ben and Destiny arrive, and they hide the...
(The entire section is 727 words.)
Chapters 41-45 Summary
On the night of the kidnapping, Mrs. Cappelle does not return home until nine, just before her husband, and they both are surprised and anxious when they cannot find Romi. Their daughter's note promises that she will be home by seven; so the Cappelles begin calling Romi's friends to find out where she could be. When they talk to Destiny's mom, all she can tell them is that Destiny left the house with Ben early that evening. As the Cappelle futilely go through the list of Romi's friends, Mrs. Cappelle remembers that Romi had mentioned talking to Malaka recently. Of course, she has no idea that Malaka knows exactly where Romi is and that she is involved in her disappearance. Mrs. Cappelle calls Malaka and does not like the girl's evasive attitude. As she ends the phone call, Malaka brazenly warns Mrs. Cappelle that Romi has probably gotten into trouble with the "foreigner" she has been hanging out with. Mr. Cappelle interprets Malaka's comments to mean that he was right about his suspicions about Julio and goes to call the police. As he does so, two police officers ring the doorbell; they are accompanied by Destiny and Ben. Destiny proceeds to tell the Cappelles what had been going on with the Devildogs for the past month. Ben fills them in on their plan to catch the Devildogs threatening Romi and Julio and explains that they lost sight of the couple when his car broke down. At that point, Destiny called 911, and the police began their search. The Cappelles encourage Destiny to go home so that her mother knows that she is okay.
Meanwhile, at the same time that the Cappelles find out about Romi, the Montagues have been asked to come down to the police station. Mr. Montague is furious and immediately blames Romi for Julio's situation. When the Montagues arrive at the station, they explain their presence, and a police captain enters the lobby with the Cappelles. As he introduces the worried parents to one another, the captain points out the irony behind their last names and Romi and Julio's similarities to the characters Romeo and Juliet. The parents, of course, are not amused and simply want answers. As the parents and police captain attempt to figure out where their children might be, Mr. Montague and Mr. Cappelle eye each other warily, but the mothers politely discuss their children. After Mr. Montague calms down and finally believes that Romi is not involved with a gang, the police captain suggests that the teens are the targets of a...
(The entire section is 569 words.)
Chapters 46-50 Summary
As the Montagues wait for word about Julio, they discuss what they could have done differently with him. Mrs. Montague tries to convince her husband that they have raised a fine young man and that they have to have faith that he will be okay. At two in the morning, they receive a call from the police captain who tells them that they have had a break in the case. A group of teens driving a car matching the tire tracks found at the kidnapping scene has been arrested. When the Cappelles and Montagues arrive at the police station, they are asked to look at the teens through a two-way mirror to see if they can provide any information to the police. Mrs. Cappelle immediately recognizes Malaka, and the teen is pulled from the line-up to be questioned.
When the police captain begins his interrogation of Malaka, she is standoffish and fidgety. Her attitude changes when the captain informs her that she can be tried as an adult and serve up to fifteen years for the crime of kidnapping. At first, she does not want to snitch on her boyfriend, but she lets it slip that she was in the backseat of the car earlier that night and that Terrell had given her a gun to hold. When it seems that she will not cooperate, the captain tells her that because her mother has refused to come down to the station, Malaka will have to spend the night in jail and that she will miss the opportunity to help her case with the prosecution by not providing information. Malaka cracks under the pressure and tells the captain to begin looking at the boathouse near London Woods. The captain immediately acts upon the information but has to confess to the anxious parents that when his men arrived at the boathouse, the teens were gone, and a boat is missing. He does show them evidence that the teens were there but worries that they might be out on the lake in the middle of a horrific thunderstorm. Both parents must then wait out the night until the weather clears for a search.
Chapter 48 focuses on Ben and Destiny. After the couple leaves the Cappelles' house earlier in the evening, Ben drives Destiny home, but she is not comfortable with just waiting out the search. They both agree to try to find Romi and Julio. When they arrive at London Woods, the storm is in full force; so the two must wait until the lightning ceases. When it does, they immediately exit the car and walk into the woods.
In Chapter 49, readers finally discover what has happened to Romi and...
(The entire section is 709 words.)
Chapters 51-55 Summary
Chapter 51 repeats the book's beginning. Romi struggles underwater and is about to succumb to drowning when she hears a voice in the distance: Julio's voice. The only difference is that now Romi truly is drowning rather than dreaming. As she sinks farther beneath the surface, Julio is desperate to find her. He dives down and at last touches Romi whose hair is caught on a rock. After he frees her, Julio pulls her to the surface and turns her face to the air as he struggles to get them both to the shore. On the verge of hypothermia, Julio can barely carry the lifeless Romi as he tries to find shelter from the storm. When he trips over a fallen tree, he realizes that it is large enough to protect them from the elements and lays Romi on pine needles; he then tries to cover her as much as possible with his body. Though Julio knows that he should stay awake, he is cold and drifts into unconsciousness.
Early the next morning, the police discover the destroyed boat but can find no sign of the teens. They fear the worst and call in the lake-dragging team while vowing to keep up their search efforts in the lake's surrounding areas. As the investigation continues, a young police officer discovers more evidence in the Devildogs' car: Ben's minicam. The captain is thrilled by the find and even happier when the minicam works.
At the same time, Ben and Destiny along with the search party walk around the lake. Destiny finds the shoe that Romi was wearing when she disappeared and agrees with Ben that they need to take the shoe to the police tent; they begin to walk in that direction.
Back at the temporary headquarters of the investigation, the Cappelles and Montagues arrive to help with the search. The police captain updates them on the minicam evidence and acknowledges that while the camera does seem to demonstrate that Julio and Romi were alive when thrown into the car trunk, it does not provide them with any information regarding the teens' whereabouts. The captain also has to tell the parents that a destroyed boat was found on the lake. The parents, though extremely troubled by the discovery, believe that their children are alive. The fathers set out on their own search, while Mrs. Montague and Mrs. Cappelle begin organizing friends to help with the search.
(The entire section is 403 words.)
Chapters 56-62 Summary
The morning newscast features a bulletin on the missing teens, and Mr. Cappelle's ditsy co-anchor, Nannette, speculates about whether Romi and Julio will meet the fate of the infamous Shakespearean lovers of similar names or if they might simply be hiding from the threat of gang violence. The bulletin concludes with a police number for tipsters to call. After her report, Nannette heads to the lake near London Woods to do on-the-site journalism, but everyone she tries to talk to has no time for her silliness. She closes the report with a promise to update her audience when she receives more information.
Meanwhile, Mr. Cappelle and Mr. Montague set out on their own search. As they sit down on a log to rest, they discuss their children and realize that they have much more in common than they had originally thought. Both men admit that their prejudice toward one another is unfounded. As they finish talking, Mr. Cappelle sees a blue shirt on the ground, and the two men quickly uncover their children. Unconscious and freezing, the two teens are carried to safety by their fathers. Nannette is one of the first spectators to spy the men and immediately begins broadcasting that the teens have been found but that they are, unfortunately, dead. As Nannette gets closer to the fathers, her long-suffering cameraman, Lawrence, tells her that the teens are alive. The floundering reporter then makes matters worse by trying to get closer to the parents so that she can ask questions, but Lawrence subtly turns off his camera, and everyone ignores Nannette.
When Julio awakens in the hospital, he is surrounded by flowers and initially cannot recall why he is in a hospital bed. His memories of the previous night return quickly, and he is desperate to find out where Romi is. When Julio's mother enters the room, he apologizes profusely, and she informs him that he saved Romi's life. The doctors believe that if the couple had not had each other's body heat to warm one another that they would have died. Together, they defied fate and survived the elements. When Mr. Montague enters the room, Julio apologizes to him, too, but Mr. Montague confesses that he is the one who needs to apologize and explains that he has realized that he was wrong about Romi and her family.
Down the hospital hallway in Romi's room, a similar scene plays out. She apologizes to her parents for putting herself into such a dangerous situation and for not trusting...
(The entire section is 701 words.)