Practice makes perfect.
Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she'd get to shadow the Jesse Scott, Nashville's teen idol.
But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He's as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he's accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya's lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. Not to mention that Jesse's pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya's playing back up to other people's dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart-and go solo?
Praise for Miranda Kenneally's Breathe, Annie, Breathe:
"[An] expertly paced and realistic romance."-Booklist, starred review
"Heartfelt, uplifting, and quite possibly enough motivation to make readers reach for their running shoes." -Publisher's Weekly
"Breathe, Annie, Breathe is an emotional, heartfelt, and beautiful story about finding yourself after loss and learning to love. Her best book yet." -Jennifer L. Armentrout, New York Times bestselling author of Wait for You
About the Author
Growing up in Tennessee, MIRANDA KENNEALLY dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband. Visit mirandakenneally.com
Read an Excerpt
The Space Between
Backstage, there's so much security, you'd think it was the White House.
I've been to plenty of concerts, but I've never had a backstage pass, so I follow Dr. Salter's lead and keep flashing my all-access badge over and over. My principal squeezes between two beefy men in security jackets and knocks on a door stamped with a red star.
A man in a tailored black suit and shimmering blue tie opens the door. He's got better skin than any girl I know, and I bet his haircut cost a small fortune. "Oh good. It's you," he says to Dr. Salter, giving him a bright smile. The man takes my hand. "You must be Maya."
"Come on in."
Inside the dark dressing room, I spot a vintage Gibson guitar, three flat-screen TVs all showing the Braves game, and a table piled high with burgers and corn on the cob. I thought nothing could smell more delicious than my mom's cooking, but I was wrong.
"Maya, this is Jesse's manager, Mark Logan," Dr. Salter says.
Mr. Logan pats my back like I'm one of the good ole boys. "Jesse will be out in a minute to meet you. Why don't you get yourself a drink?" He gestures at the bar, which appears to be booze-free. Seems like a good move, considering Jesse got drunk and fell off that yacht a few months ago. The press had a field day with that, because it was totally out of character for Jesse Scott. Yeah, he's a famous country star, but everyone thinks of him as this sweet, quiet boy from down on the farm.
"Could I have a word next door in private?" Mr. Logan asks my principal. "Jesse's telling the crowd tonight."
Dr. Salter's face goes from happy to anxious, and they step back into the hallway where the security guys are buzzing around in their yellow jackets.
All alone now, I gaze over at Jesse's guitar. I'm itching to try it out. What I wouldn't give to throw the strap around my neck, charge out of the dressing room onto the stage, and rock out to Queen. But would I do "Somebody to Love"? Or "Another One Bites the Dust"? It's a silly idea-I wouldn't make it three feet before the beefcake security guys tackle me. I'd bite the dust. Literally. And if I sang, it's a one hundred percent possibility my voice would crack. Playing onstage at the Opry...wouldn't it be great, though?
I love playing guitar and performing more than anything. Before I started The Fringe, which was originally an eighties tribute band but has since become heavy metal only, I even went to church on Sundays just to sing with the youth choir. All the crotchety old people would whisper and point their walking canes at my bright red lipstick, but I doubt God cares about that or the diamond stud in my nose. God only cares that I sang "I'll Fly Away" at the top of my lungs.
That was before I gave it up to focus on my band. I also used to be a proud member of my school's show choir, which isn't anything like the cool groups in Pitch Perfect. You know, that a cappella movie? We sang songs like "When the Saints Go Marching In" and wore billowing green dresses, like you'd see on the cover of a historical bodice-ripper romance novel. If that doesn't tell you how much I love music, I don't know what will. If the choice had been mine, we would've worn leather pants and tight tanks, but my director said that isn't proper attire for our school's most distinguished arts program.
However, as much as I love music, I am generally not a fan of country. I don't like banjos. I don't like sappy lyrics about trucks and hauling hay. Dolly Parton is my mortal enemy-my mom plays "Jolene" over and over and over and over, and it makes me want to chop my ears off like van Gogh. Yeah, yeah, I'm from Tennessee, where it's a crime if you don't love country, but I like deep, rumbling beats and singing loud and fast and hard. I do not like closing my eyes and crooning to a cow in the pasture.
Yet here I am at a Jesse Scott concert, getting ready to meet him and to see if he'll let me shadow him next Friday. My school requires every senior to "shadow" a professional for a day. It's their way of helping us figure out what kind of career we want. Like, if you want to be president when you grow up, you might get to shadow the mayor. Want to be a chef? Have fun kneading dough at the Donut Palace.
When I said "I want to be a musician," I figured they'd send me to work in the electronics section at Walmart.
I certainly never expected to shadow the king of country music.
It turns out that Jesse Scott is my principal's nephew. Jesse won TV's Wannabe Rocker when he was ten and has gone on to become very successful. In sixth grade, every girl in class-myself included-took the Teen Beat quiz: "Would Jesse Scott Like Your Kissing Style?" (Obviously the answer was yes.) In middle school, I had a Jesse Scott poster on my ceiling. It's hard to believe he's only eighteen, because he's already won three Grammys. When he was younger, his songs were about family, fishing, and playing baseball, but lately they're about love and making love and all things sexy.
I wouldn't say I'm a fan anymore, but I would never give up an opportunity to learn from a professional with such a gorgeous, pure voice. I want to learn what it's like to perform day in and day out. Despite what everyone and their mom says-that I'll struggle as a musician-all I want is to play guitar in front of a crowd and hear people cheer for me.
I can't believe I'm backstage at the Grand Ole Opry! I bounce on my toes. Jesus, is that an archtop Super 4, the model Elvis played? I've never seen one in real life. It probably cost more than my house.
I'm ogling the guitar when Jesse Scott comes out of the bathroom, drying his hair with a towel. He pads across the room to the couch, wearing nothing but a pair of rugged jeans with more holes than Swiss cheese.
The lighting is dim, and he doesn't seem to notice I'm here, which is good, because I've moved from ogling the guitar to ogling him. Who wouldn't? He was one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People," and it is a truth universally acknowledged that you should stare at people who've made that list.
The guy's gorgeous. Like in the boy-next-door way. His wet, wavy, brown hair curls around his ears and nearly hits his shoulders, and while he doesn't have a six-pack or anything, his body is fit. I wish he'd look my way so I can see his famous brown eyes. They always remind me of those caramel chews Poppy gives me when I visit. Jesse has some sort of Celtic symbol tattooed on his left shoulder blade. I want to reach out and trace the design.
God, get ahold of yourself, Maya. Don't be a horndog. Besides, he's so not my type. I don't do pretty boys.
Jesse grabs a black T-shirt from his bag and pulls it on over his head, then heads to his personal buffet. Humming to himself, he piles a bun and a burger onto a plate and scrunches his nose at a plateful of pickles, which is just crazy, because pickles are what make the burger. Instead he grabs a bottle of ketchup, unscrews the lid, and tries to shake some onto his burger. It's not budging. Must be a new bottle.
"Try hitting the little fifty-seven on the side-"
He startles. "What are you doing here?"
"Did the Opry arrange for a ketchup expert to be at my beck and call?" he snaps.
"Clearly you need one." I stride over, grab the bottle out of his hand, and tap the little fifty-seven with the heel of my hand. Ketchup pours out.
"Thanks," he says calmly. Then he yells, "Security! Another girl snuck in," as he strides to the door in his bare feet. Jesse yanks open the door, revealing Dr. Salter and Mr. Logan. "I'm beginning to think you guys are letting them in just to torture me."
The manager claps once. "Oh good. So you've met Maya? Have you discussed the possibility of her shadowing you next-"
"I'm sick of these groupie meet and greets," Jesse says as if I'm not here. "Can't I eat my damned dinner in peace?"
"You can now that you've got your damned ketchup," I reply. "If you'll excuse me."
Mr. Logan and Dr. Salter gape at me. Throwing Jesse a look, I squeeze past Beefcake 1 and 2 into the hall.
I can't believe how rude he was! Dr. Salter invited me to the concert so I could meet Jesse, and since I've already had the pleasure, I see no point in staying. I don't want to shadow a spoiled pretty boy who sings about making love on tractors anyway. It's still early. If I drive back to Franklin now, maybe I could meet up with Nate, and my Friday night won't be a complete bust.
As I charge down the hall, pulling the all-access badge off from around my neck, a bunch of screaming girls rush my way. What in the world? A hand grabs my elbow. I go to shake it off and find Jesse, still holding the ketchup.
"I'm sorry-can you come back inside?"
Before I can answer, the horde descends on him. It's scarier than a zombie apocalypse.
"Shit," he mutters.
"Oh my God, I love ketchup too!" a girl squeals at the bottle in his hand. "We have so much in common!"
"Want to come to my house, Jesse? My parents are out of town."
A girl screeches and grabs his wrist. Another gets up on tiptoes to kiss his cheek, and he jerks back.
"Jesse, Jesse! Can I sing a song for you?"
"Jesse! I want you!" This one yanks her shirt open.
I snort at her hot pink bra. Jesse smirks at my reaction as security breaks the group apart.
Jesse pulls me through security back into his dressing room, where he drops my arm and scans me. I'm wearing a great outfit-black ankle booties, skinny jeans, the belt I made out of duct tape, bleached blond hair, black tank top, the silly glittery bracelets I wear ironically, and a bronze military star medal from World War I that hangs from my necklace. Kids at school often make fun of my clothes, but I don't care. I feel so Madonna right now.
Jesse shakes his head at me, then goes to give Dr. Salter a side hug. "Hey, Uncle Bob."
Dr. Salter pats Jesse's floppy hair and takes in his freckled face. "I'm looking forward to the show, son."
"Thanks for coming," Jesse says quietly.
"Wouldn't miss it," Dr. Salter says. "Where're your mom and dad? Will they be here soon?"
"They blew me off again. What else is new?"
Until a couple of years ago, my dad was a truck driver and often missed my performances because he was on the road, so I understand how Jesse feels. But my parents have always been supportive. It shocks me that his parents aren't at every show.
While Jesse speaks in a low voice only Dr. Salter can hear, I decide to check my phone. My best guy friend, Dave, texted: I need a play-by-play of how hot Jesse is. Do we think he's bi?
I also received a text from my bandmate, Nate. His reads: Hannah told me where you are. Did you really sell out and go to a Jesse Scott show?
Groan. I love hooking up with Nate, but jeez. Why are guys so dramatic?
"What's the girl doing here?" Jesse asks.
"Remember I told you about shadow day?" his manager asks.
"Remind me," Jesse replies through a big bite of burger.
"You agreed to meet with Maya. She's pretty talented on guitar," Dr. Salter says.
Jesse stares at me, chewing. "So you play, huh?"
I ignore him. When he realizes I'm giving him the cold shoulder, he turns to Dr. Salter. "Seriously? I'm missing the Braves for this?"
My principal gives me the glare he reserves for kids who cut class. "I'd like you to consider letting her shadow you, Jess."
Jesse just shrugs.
I should've known this would be a bust. Shadow day assignments always are. Students never get paired with professionals who can actually teach them something. Last year, Rory Whitfield said he wanted to be a movie director and ended up at the infant portrait area at Sears.
Dr. Salter says, "You should've seen her play guitar in the school talent show last spring. She's amazing."
"Did you win?" Jesse asks me.
I shake my head, cringing at the memory. Why did Dr. Salter have to bring that up? After my band declared the school talent show "lame," I decided to perform on my own, adding a hard edge to one of my favorite songs, "Bohemian Rhapsody," and had a great time rocking out. That is, until I started to sing, and my voice cracked under the pressure. Kids at school called me the siren for weeks. People have always said I have a great voice, but when all eyes are on me, something usually goes wrong-like the time I fainted during a solo.
I wish their eyes had somewhere else to focus. That's why I prefer being part of a band.
Jesse takes another bite of his burger and gives me a bored stare, and I feel like the pickle he turned his nose up at. What a letdown. I figured People took personality into account when developing their beautiful people list. Apparently not.
You'd think Jesse would be as sweet as his songs.
Okay, okay. I'll admit it-even though my musical tastes have evolved, Jesse wrote this one song, "Second Chance," that I've loved since middle school. When Dave, my first crush and now best friend, wasn't interested in dating me because he was too busy liking other boys (I didn't know that at the time), "Second Chance" helped heal my broken heart.
So it kind of sucks meeting the real Jesse. I've seen more life out of mannequins. Granted, I haven't smiled at him, but he was incredibly rude after I helped with his ketchup. I had really been looking forward to this opportunity, but he's nothing more than a beautiful voice and a hot body with a cool tattoo.
Dr. Salter must sense our meeting is going downhill real fast. "Jess, you really should see Maya on guitar."
Spoiled ass. Two can play. "My Martin's much cooler than your Gibson," I say, even though it's a total lie.
Instead of taking another bite, Jesse turns his head toward me, wide-eyed. "Shut up. My archtop is the best guitar there is."
I gesture at it. "What year is it? A '67?"
I can't help but ask, "A Super 4? Like Elvis had?"
"Right..." A smile forms on his face, but a second later, he winces.
"So is it okay, Jess?" Dr. Salter asks. "Can Maya shadow you?"
Jesse studies me. "Mom and Dad'll love that I'm hanging out with a sexy punk girl. So whatever you need, Uncle Bob."
"Jesse!" Dr. Salter and Mr. Logan blurt simultaneously.
What a jerk.
Wait. Did he say sexy?
Mr. Logan claps his hands together again. "Well, I think Maya seems fabulous. I'm okay with her shadowing Jesse next week as long as it's okay with him."
Silence engulfs the dressing room.
Jesse takes a long look at his uncle, then bites into his burger and talks with his mouth full. "Fine, she can shadow me."
"I'll see if I can work it into my schedule," I say, then turn and walk out.
• • •
Against my better judgment, I decide to stick around for the concert, because I've never been to the Grand Ole Opry.
Performing here is every country music singer's dream, and while I'm not into yodeling, I still respect the Opry. When I looked at Jesse Scott's website, it said he's already done ten concerts here. I guess that means he's really somebody. Which I could've told you, considering his face is on every tweeny bopper magazine down at the Quick Pick and he's at the top of the iTunes charts.
I stand in line for what seems like hours to buy myself a puffy pink cotton candy, then head inside the main concert hall. Heat from the crowd presses against my skin as I squeeze past shrieking girls and make my way down to the stage, which looks like an old red barn.
"Maya!" Dr. Salter calls out. "Over here." He gestures for me to join him in the center of the first row. The best seat in the house.
I edge around another pack of squealing girls to meet my principal. "I was wondering where you went," he says.
I hold up my cotton candy, offering him a piece. He pinches some off and pops it in his mouth. The other reason I didn't leave early is because I've always liked Dr. Salter, and I don't want to let him down. He tells funny jokes during the morning announcements and always takes a turn in the dunking booth during homecoming. It's odd, though, seeing him in a Van Halen leather jacket and not his usual sweater vest and bow tie.
I point at the stage with my cotton candy. "We've got better seats than God, huh? From this close, Jesse oughta be able to see me not clapping for him."
Dr. Salter gives me a stern look. "I'm sorry about my nephew... He's not used to... He doesn't meet a lot of new people."
"I figured he meets people all the time."
"There's a difference between meeting people and actually speaking with them."
The banshee convention I met backstage was something else, all right.
"I thought..." Dr. Salter pauses. "I thought that shadow day might be good for both of you. You can get some music advice from Jesse...and he needs a break and needs to spend time with somebody his age... It's hard when everybody scrutinizes every single thing you do."
As the lights go down, the band takes the stage, and the screaming crowd crescendos to just about the loudest noise I've ever heard. A spotlight bathes the stage in blinding white light. Smoke billows in the wings. Dr. Salter puts two fingers in his mouth and whistles.
Then the most beautiful guitar lick rings out, echoing in the concert hall.
The screaming stops, because everyone wants to hear that sound.
Jesse Scott steps into the spotlight with his cedar-colored vintage Gibson strapped around his neck. He plays a riff and brings his mouth to the microphone.
"How you doin', Nashville?" Jesse yells into the microphone in a deep Southern drawl, tipping his beige cowboy hat before starting to play "Campfires," this country pop song about hiking and fishing with his grandfather. "Gimme fireflies, gimme trout, gimme burning logs, hell-gimme a mosquito, but keep your damned electricity."
The bass ripples through the concert hall and makes the floor vibrate, and my heart beats in time with the drums.
During the chorus, Jesse flips the guitar around to his back, grabs the mike with both hands, and gives the audience a full view of his great body. He's wearing the tight black T-shirt that hugs his biceps and chest, bright red cowboy boots, and a belt buckle shaped like a skull. Hey, it matches the skull pajamas I wore to bed last night! I feel silly for a beat, because my inner monologue sounds just like that girl backstage: "I like ketchup too!"
I've never seen anyone play guitar like him. Jesse blisters through the solo, and he's so into his music, it's like the crowd isn't even here. Meanwhile, the girl next to me is bawling like her face is a busted fire hydrant.
When the song is over, Jesse grabs the mike with one hand and says, "Thanks for coming out tonight, Nashville. I may travel all over the place, but I want my fans to know this is my one true home."
Everyone screams as Jesse looks down and tips his cowboy hat at Dr. Salter. Jesse's face seems sad as he scans the rest of the front row. He gives me a fleeting look before starting to rock out on guitar again. The next song is "Agape." It's about how he lives for music.
After his third song ("Ain't No City Boy"), Jesse wipes the sweat off his face with his T-shirt sleeve and says into the mike, "Damn, that popcorn smells good. Can I get some up here?" Ten seconds later, a stagehand rushes out with a bucket. Jesse eats a few pieces. "Perfect," he says, licking his fingers. "Y'all want some?" The crowd roars, so he throws the bucket out into the crowd, sprinkling us with popcorn.
About halfway through the concert, Jesse makes everyone sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" with him, but instead of singing "Root, root, root for the home team," we sing "Root, root, root for the Braves!" And then with his eyes shut, he does this insane acoustic rendition of "Amazing Grace," set to the tune of the Eagles' "Peaceful Easy Feeling."
Jesse performs all of his hits, but the encore, "Second Chance," is the highlight. He sings, "She may have been Paris, but I needed the soft sun, so I let her fly."
I actually clap when the song's over, and he looks down at me again. The crowd roars. He may not have a great presence offstage, but when he's onstage, he's on.
He yanks off his cowboy hat. "Thanks everybody." A pause. "As many of you probably know, in November, I'll begin a six-week tour of North America and Europe." The crowd roars again. He speaks over the noise. "And after that, in December-" His voice breaks. He takes a deep breath. "I'll be leaving the industry."
Boos and cries-mostly cries-rattle the auditorium.
The king of country music is quitting? Is this the announcement Mr. Logan mentioned to Dr. Salter? I turn to my principal. His eyes are watering.
"I just wanted to say-wanted to make sure y'all know-my fans mean everything to me." His voice cracks again.
And my heart breaks for him, because whatever is going on must be pretty serious. I can't imagine giving up music for any reason whatsoever.
"Thank you, Nashville!" he yells into the mike and jogs offstage, carrying his guitar.
I find Dr. Salter's eyes. "He's really doing this, huh?"
"I guess so... The thing is, Maya, I don't think he truly wants to."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book showed the audience that you can be anything you want to be if you try your hardest at it. My 2nd favorite in the series 1st is Catching Jordan
This book was good. I was up half of the night trying to finish this book. Miranda Kenneally books always have me wanting more. I figured Jessie and Maya were going to get together lol. Plus I like how she wrote about Sam sister and had Sam and Jordan throughout the book. Awesome. It's still funny seeing the other characters as adults lol.
Love all the series, I love the author and great storyline. Any teenage girl would love this book and all the series.
Since I mention it ALL the time, it should be no surprise that I love Miranda Kenneally's books...LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them! She's one of my favourite authors, and she's yet to disappoint me⎯Jesse's Girl was no exception! When I started reading Jesse's Girl I had just finished a big homework assignment...and I didn't stop reading until I'd finished it! I loved everything about this book. The characters, the music, the story...absolutely everything was amazing! While most of the other books in the series are focused on sports in some way or another, Jesse's Girl is all about music. The title probably gives that away a bit though. :P It's also very fitting because Maya's love interest happens to be named Jesse. I'm a HUGE music fan, so I really love how Jesse's Girl revolved around music. It was also AMAZING to see Maya and her family. Maya is Sam Henry's little sister! Fans of the Hundred Oaks series will remember that Henry was a pretty big character in the first book, Catching Jordan. I've always loved how the Hundred Oaks series connects all of the characters, and it was fantastic to get to see Jordan and Sam again! I just loved that we got an update on what they're up to after all this time...especially since we got to see them so closely! :D Apart from having an awesome brother, Maya herself was wonderful! She was passionate, unique, and an amazing person. I absolutely loved her character and I would love to have her as a friend. I loved seeing her challenge herself, and I really loved seeing her relationship with Jesse evolve. And Jesse! I just loved him all-around, and I really loved seeing him open up to Maya. He also happened to be a sexy, country star which I definitely didn't mind at all. ;) haha I loved Jesse's Girl so, so much! I feel like this series just seems to get better and better with every book! At this point, I'd be hard-pressed to pick a favourite, but I wholeheartedly recommend Jesse's Girl...and I also recommend that you go back and read all the REST of the books in the Hundred Oaks series! ;) * I received an egalley of Jesse's Girl from the publisher for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
I think that almost every girl’s dream is to have a famous, sweet, sexy singer fall madly and deeply in love with them. I know I do…did…ummmm…. Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally pretty much channels that dream in this book. The initial meeting, the buildup in the relationship, the ups and downs, the drama. I couldn’t help but smile at the various sweet moments between Maya and Jesse, and feel the emotional pull when they started sharing their private stories with each other. Maya Henry is offered a chance of a lifetime! To shadow Nashville teen heart throb Jesse Scott. But what was supposed to be a day of tours and learning the behind the scenes of the business, Maya goes on an adventure of a lifetime. Jesse Scott has been famous for most of his life! But after so many years of dodging the paparazzi, he knows that to try and live a “normal” life is next to impossible. Not only does he find it difficult to find anything that even resembles a true friendship, his relationship with his parents is not exactly what he’d hoped it would be. After spending a day with Maya Henry, Jesse gets a taste of what freedom and living really is. Is he ready to give up his passion for music to try and rekindle a relationship with his parents, or is Maya actually teaching him a thing or two during her shadowing day… I adore the Hundred Oaks books by Miranda Kenneally. Each book introduces new characters that readers can’t help but love and connect with somehow. Of course, my favorite part is when characters from past books make guest appearances, and in this case, it’s Sam and Jordan (my fav couple!). I thought the author did an amazing job capturing the craziness that would ensue if you spent time with a “big time” celebrity. The non-stop paparazzi, the inability to do anything like go to the movies without making a scene. She also does a great job of getting the reader in the head of Jesse, and seeing things from his point of view. How difficult it is for him to trust pretty much anyone due to past experiences, how tiring it can be to be constantly recognized. She also does a great job of describing the difficulty in diving into a relationship again, from the POV of both characters. The relationship that we watch unfold in Jesse’s Girl is one that is so tender and sweet. I adored every minute of it. All the feels I had during that window scene…! Read the book and you’ll see what I mean. I also really loved how the chapters were named after a song. A perfect touch! I’d recommend Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally to fans of the Hundred Oaks books already! I’d also recommend it to those who wonder what it would be like to have a famous someone notice you for who you are. If you’re looking for a cute read that will leave you smiling in the end, don’t hesitate in grabbing a copy for yourself!
Miranda Kenneally's Hundred Oaks books have a similar structure to them, yet it's remarkable how each of them continue to stand on their own as enjoyable books with interesting characters. Whereas most of her previous books have featured characters who are more athletically inclined, Jesse's Girl stands out for its two main characters (Jesse and Maya) who are serious musicians. Perfect for readers who love Miranda Kenneally's other books or music. Reasons to Read: 1. Watching Jesse and Maya's relationship develop: I love a relationship that has room to grow and change over the course of a book, and Jesse and Maya are a perfect example of how to do this exceptionally well. They take their own sweet time to grow closer, and you can see how well they get to know each other. This isn't a case of insta-love, nor is it overriden with angst. Most importantly, I was impressed by how much Maya and Jesse respected one another. This was not a shallow relationship, and it's refreshing to see one like it. 2. Appearances from other Hundred Oaks characters: For readers who have already read some of the previous Hundred Oaks books, it's a special treat to get to see how some of our beloved characters have grown since we last read about them and to see what they're up to now! It also helps to ground the story since I recognize the place and the people, 3. A great appreciation of music: Music is a big part of both Jesse and Maya's lives, and while their tastes in music share some similarities, they are also very different. And it's really interesting to see how far they take it. While Jesse bears more of a burden when it comes to his musical career, it's interesting to see that contrasted with Maya's drive and ambition to see her dreams succeed. And from this, they're able to learn from each other. I also loved Maya's family and how supportive they were of her. You could really see just how tight-knit they were, and how much that benefited Maya. And I'm always a fan of great families. A very minor issue for me was that Jesse's Girl seemed to have less conflict than some of the previous Hundred Oaks books, so I'm not sure there was as much development as I would have liked to have seen. I was impressed, however, by how well Jesse and Maya dealt with the conflict that they did encounter. ARC received from Raincoast Books for review; no other compensation was received.
I'm way behind in my Miranda Kenneally reading, but since I'd read and loved Catching Jordan back when it first came out, it seemed appropriate to jump back in and read Jesse's Girl ASAP, since it stars Sam Henry's little sister Maya, now a senior herself...with big brother Sam being all freaking adorable, ready to take on anyone who gives his baby sister grief. Adorable! :) Maya's always felt like the outcast in her family, since she's the only one who doesn't live and breathe sports. Music's her passion--especially 80s music (think Madonna and Queen). So when the Hundred Oaks High senior shadow day comes around, she doesn't have high hopes for it--after all, when Jordan, her big brother's girlfriend, said she wanted to play in the NFL, she ended up shadowing the manager of the Athletic Superstore at the mall. But then she finds out that her principal's nephew is Jesse-freaking-Scott, teenage country superstar, and she'll be spending the day with him. Seems awesome, right? Except: 1) Maya hates country music. 2) Jesse acts like a total tool when she meets him before the shadow day, and the day of he answers the door wearing nothing but boxer shorts and a major 'tude. (Well, come to think of it, the boxer shorts aren't really all that much of a downside, except that the overall image is rather distracting...and Maya really was hoping to come away from this experience with something that could help her music, not just a day of ogling eye candy.) Add to the above the fact that the band she put together just dumped her, as did her sort-of boyfriend, and yeah, Maya's not exactly having the best week ever. All she wants to do is play her music for an audience (except not solo, because she's got a disastrous history there)--is that too much to ask? But then her day with Jesse turns into a Ferris-Bueller-style adventure--one that's totally worth the detentions it earns her afterwards. And she and Jesse might just be friends. Or...more than friends. Or not. Can you say "mixed messages"? Will Jesse help Maya to find the courage to give solo a try? Will she help him find a way to keep doing what he loves and finally have a somewhat-normal life too? You'll have to read Jesse's Girl (love that title!) to find out! I knew this book and I were going to get along just fine when the following allusion to Pride and Prejudice showed up in chapter one: The lighting is dim, and he doesn't seem to notice I'm here, which is good, because I've moved from ogling the guitar to ogling him. Who wouldn't? He was one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People," and it is a truth universally acknowledged that you should stare at people who've made that list. Sing it, sister. I also loved the way the book was set up as if it were a vinyl record album. Part one, leading up to and the shadow day, was called "Side A"; part two, what comes after was "Side B"; and the epilogue was the "Bonus Track". Each chapter title was a song title. Too cute! The playlist that Miranda Kenneally includes in the back is a mix of country and 80s rock; I'm definitely going to have to put it together to play in the background when I re-read this one. And I will be re-reading it :) Just as soon as I catch up on the rest of the series... Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A- I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
I read a lot of young adult and new adult romances for review, but seldom are they as realistic as “Jesse’s Girl”. Also, I rarely melt into a puddle from the sheer amount of cute contained in a book like I did with this one. Yes, there are some of the typical rock star romance tropes found in the book, but those are not excessive. The characters are very well-developed, with flaws and all. There are no perfect Mary Sues or book boyfriends here. Maya and Jesse are written as real people, and in spite of the celebrity status of Jesse, he is written as relatable without making it seem like his job does not affect things. Also, and I cannot say this enough: this is not an instalove story. Friendship comes first, and the rest plays out over months, not days. There are very real obstacles that stand in their way because of their differences in personalities and in lifestyles. These obstacles are actually worked through and not presented as nonexistent or overcome by the sheer force of love. “Jesse’s Girl” is a great read for anyone looking for a light romance that also has some substance. It’s a breath of fresh air in a crowded genre. This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Good book just not what I was expecting after the first 5. It has a different feel than the others.
What a great story! I've been eagerly looking forward to reading this book. Miranda Kenneally released the first chapter a while ago and after finishing it I knew I had to read the rest asap. Luckily my wait wasn't that long, but it was so worth it! Maya and Jesse have this amazing chemistry that you can see almost from the first page and it continues throughout. I really liked Maya and Jesse. I liked Maya for her determination to make it on her own. I admired her for finding a way to do what she loved even with phobia she had. I loved her attitude for life and her love for her family. I hated how much she hurt when she realized the betrayal of those close to her. I wish she would've told Sam and he would've railed on the a-holes who did it. I loved seeing Maya and the rest of her family. I think it made a huge difference knowing they supported her unconditionally and the sacrifices they were willing to make to do so. Jesse was a surprise. I was at first taken aback at how abrupt he was, but I realized it was his protective armor. My heart broke for how cynical he'd become, but when some of what he'd faced was revealed, I understood why it'd become necessary. I also hated how he alone he felt. Jesse was talented, kind, giving, and sweet. I loved how he opened up to Maya. He shared a lot with her on their shadow day together. He also taught her like she'd wanted, both about music and about life. I loved seeing him enjoy himself on his day off with Maya. It's surprising how much Maya and Jesse had to teach each other. I liked how they supported one another. I hope Miranda Kenneally will give them cameos in another story one day, as guest characters. Speaking of seeing favorite characters. I loved the cameos by Jordan and Sam. I especially loved seeing them together and finding out what they were doing with their lives. I really enjoyed Jesse's Girl. It's fast paced. I'm a little surprised at how quickly I read this book. I rarely looked to see how much I'd progressed into it. I would've loved to see more with Maya and her band, or even more with Jesse and his family. Those were the only aspects I would've liked more of. Other than that, the book was perfect in my opinion. I'm looking forward to more stories set in the Hundred Oaks world. Every story Miranda Kenneally has written so far has been phenomenal, and the streak continues with this one.
Independent reviewer for Archaeolibrarian I Dig Good Books. *Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Xpresso in exchange for a fair and honest review.* Jamie has yet to find what she wants to do for the rest of her life. Does she want to coach or does she want to enter into the fashion business? Could she handle another rejection? How would she ever fill her brother’s shoes and was it really necessary? Dean was stuck following in his father’s shoes, working at the family business. It was a sinking ship and his Dad wasn’t open for any ideas to make it better. Could Dean do anything to make his future brighter? He didn’t want Jamie to be stuck in the town with no room to grow, like his mom. Could he ever find happiness? This was a good story. The story line was fun and provided a nice, quick read. The two main characters were written well and were easy to understand. The relationship was sweet and they experienced problems that we can all relate to. The emotions weren’t incredibly strong in this story. I can’t say there was one emotion felt over another or any one specific that really pulled at my heart other than frustration between the two characters and wanting Dean to pull his head out and look at what was in front of him. There were some parts that made me laugh when Jamie pulled her pranks against her brothers. It seemed that this story seemed to lack some oomph. I can’t specifically what it would be that would provide the oomph and I enjoyed the story overall but it just didn’t leave a lasting impression. I enjoyed reading it but think they need another book as some of the most important parts are left hanging.
Unlike some of the other reviews, I have read all of the books in the Hundred Oaks Series by Miranda Kenneally, and this book met all of my expectations. I love Maya and Jesse, she is the perfect girl and he is the perfect guy (I am secretly hopping that a Jesse Scott manages to pop into my life sometime soon.). Granted they are not my favorite couple in the series (that honor lies with Sam and Jordan) but they are probably number two on my list! I love how Kenneally was able to connect the characters from Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker into the remaining four novels. This is the reason why I continued on with the series, I wanted to see how the previous relationships would grow and the new ones would blossom. This is why my only complaint about Jesse's Girl is that there was not enough refrences about the previous relationships in the novel. Don't get me wrong, I was so happy to find out that Sam and Jordan are still together but what about Annie and Jeremiah or Savannah and Jack? Besides that I loved this novel and I highly recommend it to everyone even if you have not read the other five books in this series. If you are like me make sure you have time when you start reading it because when you do you will not be able to put the book down until you are finished with it. Did I mention that I love Nashville, country music, and Tennessee in general so this book was the perfect book for me! Congrats Miranda, you managed to write another fantastic book that captured my heart from the very first page. I am looking forward to reading the remaining books in this series and rereading this and the previous books for years to come!
This is the first book I have ever read by Miranda Kenneally although I have wanted to read the other books in the Hundred Oaks series. I really enjoyed it and I now need to go back and read the others, especially Sam and Jordan’s story. Those two are hilarious! This story is about Sam’s sister, Maya. Maya is a good person. She loves her family and they are a good family. Their money is tight but they don’t care for material things. They are all about family. Maya plays the guitar and is in a band called The Fringe. She put them together. She sings but gets nervous going solo. So she sticks to singing as backup. Her band has been doing a lot of heavy metal but she wants to branch out and sing other things. Her favorite is 80’s music. She has her own unique style of dressing; kind of punk. But don’t stereotype her because she is sweet and very kind and real. Nate, the skumbucket from the band that he is, used Maya for his own selfish desires and then said that Maya wasn’t right for the band and they had found someone else to replace her! She handpicked each of the members of the band and put them together. She is devastated because it is all she ever wanted was to be part of a band. She doesn’t know what to do now. Side note- the band doesn’t do as well without her (HA- so there!)! Meanwhile back in school, it is time to shadow someone for a day to explore what you want to do when you grow up. Maya thinks she will end up in a music store but to her surprise she is paired up with Jesse Scott, a country music superstar who is 19. At first she despises him because he is rude. But during the day she is with him, she learns that he has no friends, most people just want to use him to get an audition or just to endorse themselves in the media. So he has kicked everyone to the curb. Maya also learns that his family won’t have anything to do with them because they believe everything he is doing is sinful and he hasn’t seen them in years. Maya sees that he is hurt over this and that is why he is going to retire in a year. He wants to be accepted by his parents. Maya finds herself grateful for her own family. The two end up not following the script for the day and Maya has a wonderful adventure with Jesse. She even gets to go to the studio and he gives her his spot with his vocal coach. They teach her a lot. Then they go have some fun too. But that fun turns into the press taking tons of photos and videos of them. So needless to say Maya will be serving some detention for not sticking to the script. But she wouldn’t have it any other way. She learns a lot and Jesse begins to trust her. Maya and Jesse have differences in spending money. Maya doesn’t want for things. Jesse doesn’t care what things cost. She sees he can make a difference for others who can’t afford lessons. But she doesn’t say anything because neither can she (afford lessons that is). What I liked was the inner monologue. Maya thinks about her own life and how she feels about things and what Jesse might be feeling and how can she help him. She is really sweet. Jesse learns quite a bit from her too. I loved how Sam is way overprotective of her and how his girlfriend Jordan handles him and the funny antics between the two. I have got to read that one next, yeah I know I said it already, I just said it again! Sam is bigger than Jesse and gives him the look often, you know the one where if you touch my sister I will kill you or I know what you did! So if you like country music, roc
4.5/5 stars I am a huge fan of the regular person falling for the famous one trope. I think it's adorable and I love seeing that dynamic. Kenneally does a great job of it here. I felt it was believable and I really enjoyed getting to see Maya and Jesse together as well as how much they learned from one another. I really liked Maya. She is a sweet character who just wants to play music. She has the passion and the drive for it, but doesn't think she can go solo because of a rather embarrassing voice crack incident that was captured and put on YouTube. However, after her band decides she's not really what they're looking for, Maya feels completely at a loss as to what to do. For job shadowing day, she has the opportunity to shadow her principal's nephew, Jesse Scott, country superstar and teen idol. It was definitely not a swoon at first sight scenario either. Jesse is guarded and snarky. I can't really blame him considering the industry he works in, but he and Maya do not get off on the best foot. I had a blast with Maya and Jesse on their job shadow day, as they decide to ditch the schedule they have planned for them and get to do some fun things on their own. Sure, Maya still gets advice and some awesome music opportunities, but I loved seeing Jesse cut free and have some fun of his own, as you can just tell the guy is struggling to enjoy life at the moment. I liked their romance a lot. Maya is wary because she doesn't want to get her heart broken again and Jesse is equally so, what with his fame and all the people that have manipulated him in the past. It may seem like Jesse Scott has it all, but when it comes down to it, he's an extremely lonely guy who craves his parents' approval. Maya is good for him because here is a girl who has no ulterior motives and just likes getting to know him for HIM and be able to share her love of music with someone who loves it just as much. We also get to see plenty of Maya's older brother, Sam and his girlfriend Jordan, and I loved catching up with those two. They are as crazy as ever and it was nice to see what they were doing now, as well as seeing them together and completely in love. Overall, I really enjoyed this latest installment of Kenneally's Hundred Oaks series and I cannot wait for more! This is a series that could go on forever and I still wouldn't feel like it was long enough!
The first I’ve read from Miranda Kenneally, the premise on this story was too good to pass up. Hundred Oaks High is set in Tennessee, so the tie in to a country singer and a girl that is musical, but so NOT into country music (I can relate) was a logical one. And from there, Kenneally uses the logical and plausible scenario to produce a story that is entertaining and engaging, but most of all possible. Maya was a bassist for a band: she’s a fan of Queen and other rock and roll stylings, and with the loss of both her band gig and the boy she was crushing on, things haven’t been that wonderful. And, when you add to that, a “Career Mentoring Day” when she discovers that while she’ll be paired with a successful musician: he’s a country singer. Jesse is 18 and a rising country star, with fame, fortune and a few pitfalls along the way. His parents are not happy with his choice to chase his dream, he doesn’t want to shepherd a high school kid around for a day, and he’s still dealing with so-called friends betrayals. While he started out being an utter jerk, Maya’s friendliness and openness soon had him softening. And then…. They start sharing themselves: their dreams and disappointments, bonding over music and life difficulties that are common no matter your circumstances. Attraction between them starts to grow as their day’s adventures move from one high point to another. Most importantly, BOTH characters developed in a way that was realistic and sweetly touching, and their conversations brought them to new perspectives and understandings about their disappointments, even as their own attraction sparkled. Growth for the characters, a believable story and realistic situations and conversations that are easy to relate to kept this story richly satisfying and engaging. Working well as a standalone title despite its being a part of a similar-setting series, this is a wonderful introduction to this author’s work. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review, all conclusions are my own responsibility.
My first Miranda Kenneally book was Breathe, Annie, Breathe, which I ended up really enjoying when I read it last year. So you could say I was pretty excited to read this book. After reading this one, I’m determined to go back and read the ENTIRE Hundred Oaks series now! This book was FANTASTIC! I loved it so much. And I can’t wait to meet more of this great crew of characters. Maya loves music. She spends her time playing in a rock band with some friends from school. So when Hundred Oaks High sets her up to shadow the country music star “Jesse Scott” for the day as part of a career mentor program, she’s excited, yet hesitant. Country music isn’t exactly her thing. And neither is Jesse’s stuck-up, better-than-you-are attitude that he’s known for. Yes, he’s easy on the eyes… VERY easy… but his attitude is hard for Maya to ignore. Right from their first meeting she’s put off by his demeanor and entitlement, acting super snarky right back to him. These two get off to a rough start. But as their shadowing day continues, they begin to see a different side of each other, and the feelings begin. But can the local snarky punk rock girl really end up with the spoiled country rock start guy? This was such a fun story! I loved the whole opposites attract story line. I loved how their entire day was inspired by Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, both of them trying new things and enjoying their day to the fullest at all costs. These two opposites (Jesse, “a little bit country”, the Maya, “a little bit rock and roll”) find themselves having more fun on this shadow day than they’ve had in quite some time. I don’t have a single complaint about this book. I fell in love with Jesse right from the beginning. He was struggling with family issues, as well as trying to learn how to live in the spotlight, all while just trying to live his life and enjoy it as much as he can. Maya, who wanted to branch out a bit and play different kids of music in her band, was constantly outnumbered and made to feel that she was never good enough. Maya, searching for some self-confidence, and Jesse, searching for himself, make one of the cutest couples I’ve ever read about. They’re definitely up there with Lola & Cricket for me now! I would DEFINITELY recommend this book! It had it all. I can’t imagine fans of Miranda Kenneally not being totally blown away by this adorable story, and even more adorable couple. This is the perfect beach read, the type of book you will pick up while you’re relaxing outdoors and refuse to put down until you’ve devoured the entire thing in one sitting.