Jess loves audiobooks, sewing skirts, and the first day of school. She even gets along with her family, including Barrett, her rock-god older brother. She is, in short, a nerd, and feels immediate dread when she starts to grow apart from her two best friends, Bizza and Char, who underwent a punk makeover to fit in with Barrett’s band. After Bizza goes after Jess’ longtime crush and winds up with an STD, Jess ends the friendship. Karma, like Bizza, can be a bitch. With no clique to hang out with, Jess is lulled into the clutches of the Dungeons & Dragons crowd—and finds herself falling for one of them! Halpern (Get Well Soon, 2007) realistically writes about teens coming to terms with their coming-of-age. Jess is anxious about embracing her inner nerdlinger, but emerges from the transformation secure in her self worth and seeking out the people who will support her. Reinvention is rarely so delightfully nerdy. Grades 9-12. –Courtney Jones
Why I read this Book:
Picked it up because Stephenie Perkins recommended it as the author had given her a quote for Anna and the French Kiss. Or at least I think that’s the reason why I picked it up. (some author somewhere recommended it and I follow their blog so I clicked to see what it was about and it looked really good and true to my highschool experience)
So I wavered about reading this book too. Lately I have been wavering a lot before picking up a book with significant down time in between. I have been busy and I want to make sure that what I am reading is just right for what I need right now. This book was a good cure for the Duff.
If you wanted to know who I was in high school I was Jessie. No really I was. Okay so I wasn’t into math the way she is but substitute reading for math and that is me. Also I had a younger sister and not an older brother. And she managed cool way better than I did, but was not into punk. But those are minor things compared to the emotion of who Jessie was, and my dears I was Jessie.
I didn’t know who I was at the beginning of high school and hung around with all girls. And then it turns out that girls are back stabbing venomous bitches in packs, so I ditched them in favor of the Amtgard loving D&D nerds and drama freaks. I found happiness and a place I belonged in that tumultuous time that is high school with these nerds. They made it survivable and bearable. I didn’t quite question the transition as much as Jessie, but I can tell you I couldn’t have gotten through it without them. I miss them, like a good memory. But we have grown apart from those days, and so I will treasure them in that found thank goodness I’ts over but thanks for getting me through it kind of way.
Anyways the book. It is heartfelt but not in that heavy make your stomach sink kind of way. The voice is good, but I am not going to lie, it did feel a little forced at times. Like the author was trying too hard for that teenage voice, when I knew that the main character while a teenager had a more developed mentality than a teenager. She knew when her friends were being idiots and didn’t join them. She knew who she was as a person and what made her happy and did not compromise on that for being cool. Those are things that made her more mature in my eyes, so when the author used lots of brackets and a kind of flip voice, it didn’t feel true.
I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. Maybe I was like that too. Older for my age, but still stuck in that age. Still communicating and talking like that but with a more firm understanding of what makes me, me. I knew I liked Great Big Sea, and costuming and Amtgard and boys, and acting and reading. I never let go of those even though they were not typically cool and did not get me invited to any large parties. But those were the things that made life bearable as a teen. So I kept them. Did I do stupid things too, you’re damned straight I did. Was I completely confused and an emotional wrecking ball, yes I was that too. Did I wish that my family life wasn’t so dammed complicated and I wasn’t trapped in the middle, absolutely. But I am where I am now because of all that, and despite all of that I am remarkably happy with where my life is right now.
Anyways back to the book. As you can tell it really got me thinking a lot about my life and how it related to Jessie. She has this cool older brother, and she has a link to his cool friends, and you know what she really doesn’t exploit that. She really is more concerned about being happy for herself and not molding herself into something that she is not. I like that she found her true calling with the D&D nerds. LOVE that. Also the part where the father mentions about being the only girl in a roll playing group. On the button totally.
Anyways, if I could give a teen one book that says it’s okay, be who you are and you’ll find happiness, this is that book. It’s serious without feeling pushy. I like the issues it touches on, but it doesn’t feel like it’s driving a moral. It is what it is, and it’s really sweetly done.