- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
VOYALife has suddenly turned rocky for fourteen-year-old Jessica. Her family is preoccupied with divorce, depression, and remarriage; her best friend does not understand her; and her body has developed alien curves and thrilling but confusing urges. Looking for her "chance to matter" and to sate those urges, Jessica finds herself doing things she knows are dangerous. She picks up a twenty-year-old stranger, performs oral sex, makes out (and more) with popular boys who then toss her aside, and pointlessly loses her virginity. It takes the combination of a pregnancy scare, her father's sympathetic fiancTe, and her own abiding passion for photography for Jessica's self-respect to reassert itself and guide her back on track. When surrounded by books full of abuse, rape, and drug use, Jessica's cautionary tale might seem almost mundane. The familiarity of Jessica's life will enable easy connection with readers, however, and allow the story to pack a real punch. Although cringing parents-rather than the book's intended audience-might feel the most impact, it is sobering to see how easily an intelligent, "normal" girl could slide right into Jessica's high-heeled boots. Hoffman's stark, perceptive prose spares no blushes in describing Jessica's sexual encounters, although the descriptions are painfully realistic rather than gratuitous. One curious omission is any mention of STDs. Jessica's self-castigation may seem overtly didactic at times and the pat ending too upbeat, but the story will resonate with those confused by the allure of bad decisions, and it might give others insight into the pain of a so-called "slut." VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Willappeal with pushing; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Simon & Schuster, 176p., Ages 15 to 18.
—Rebecca C. Moore