Juvenile offender's unique journey of self-discovery begins with Shakespeare

4:02 PM


Leah is a sweet, sensitive 15-year-old girl who loves Taylor Swift, binge-watching reality TV and just wants to get through the rest of junior high without any trouble.

At least that was the plan.

When the school bully pushes Leah too far, she snaps. And her world turns upside down.

Arrested for assault and battery, Leah is deemed a juvenile offender and sentenced to an unusual form of rehabilitation: a Shakespeare workshop where she has to memorize scenes with other teen offenders and perform on a big stage for an audience.

“Sentenced to Shakespeare” is a contemporary young adult novel from prolific journalist Iris Dorbian. Loosely inspired by the real-life Shakespeare in the Courts program in Massachusetts, Sentenced follows Leah's transformative journey as she grapples with the idea of being punished for defending herself after the bully's behavior had gone widely ignored by school officials.

Leah hates the bully, but she also hates what the bully drove her to do.

Not wanting to disappoint her parents even more than she already has, Leah immerses herself in the Shakespeare workshop, where she finds comfort and solidarity with the other juvenile offenders, relating to this group of strangers more than she anticipated. 

Leah even encounters something she's never experienced before — love. But when a new "friend” throws her under the bus, Leah is forced to confront her choices and stop blaming her bullies, or else risk losing the opportunity she's been given to make a new life for herself. 

Author Iris Dorbian is a professional business and arts journalist whose credits include Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Venture Capital Journal, Buyouts, Investopedia, DMNews, Jerusalem Report, the Forward, Playbill, Backstage, Theatermania, Live Design, Media Industry Newsletter and PR News. She is the former editor-in-chief of Stage Directions magazine and author of Great Producers: Visionaries of the American Theater, which was published by Allworth Press/Skyhorse Publishing in August 2008.

Dorbian’s personal essays have been published in Blue Lyra Review, B O D Y, Embodied Effigies, Jewish Literary Journal, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Adanna Literary Journal, ThisSpace.org, Skirt! and Gothesque Magazine. A New Jersey native, Iris has a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.

To learn more, please visit irisdorbian.com, or connect with her on LinkedIn at Iris Dorbian; on Twitter at @IrisDorbian; on Facebook at Iris Dorbian; and on Instagram at irisdorbian.

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