JEMIMA J: A NOVEL ABOUT UGLY DUCKLINGS AND SWANS by Jane Green
Genre: Fiction (ChickLit)
How Acquired: BookRelay
Reading Began: September 10, 2004
Completed Reading: September 16, 2004
Overall rating: Five out of ten
Recommendation to others: This is a standard bit of ChickLit, I suppose, and easy enough to read. Be forewarned that it loses something when the story takes Jemima from frumpy duckling to shrinking-in-size swan. And the book’s a bit overly graphic in some sections, taking a good deal away from the story. It’s pure fluff, somewhat enjoyable, but best served when no thought is required from the reader.
Why I chose to read this book: The story of Jemima in her first skin is very much like my own, so there was quite a draw for me.
Further reading by this author: I’m curious about Bookends, but I’m wary now. We’ll see.
Comments: The author made too many generalizations and too many stereotypical statements about the main character, Jemima, for me to really say I enjoyed this book. I did want to see it play out, but most of the time I was equally irritated and saddened by Jemima. It turned into a shallow piece of ChickLit long before the story drew to a close, and that was a shame since it could have been much more enjoyable. In the end, I was only halfway curious about Jemima’s outcome; her object of affection Ben became my compelling reason to finish the book.
Judging by the pictures drawn in Jemima J, Jane Green didn’t seem to really understand the plight of women living with obesity, thus taking a great idea and falling far short of what could have been. She also had this incredibly irritating habit of pulling the reader out of the story entirely to speak to the characters. It seemed as if Green couldn’t decide whether the book should be told in first, second or third person, and every time it happened in Jemima J, I just wanted to slap Jane Green. Not the best way to keep readers, I’d say.
Favorite Characters: Ben Williams was a doll, and Geraldine was a true friend. I would have liked to read more about her, in fact, as she seemed to have more depth than Jemima ever did.
She pays, walks out of the café, and starts down the hill, feeling ridiculously happy for no reason at all. She goes past the bar and looks in at the beautiful people, thinking that one day she will be slim enough to join them.
And then she sees them. Ben and Sam, sitting on the sofa at the back, and she freezes, her mouth open in a gasp of shock. Ben and Sam are getting along as famously as two people who have nothing in common other than a mutual attraction can get on. Sam is flirting outrageously, and Ben is enjoying having a gorgeous woman flirt with him. Already he knows that he will not be going out with her, because already she has proved to be indescribably stupid, but [boy,] does he fancy her.
How can your moods change so suddenly? I mean, I was feeling so good, so happy, so optimistic, and now I’m rooted to the spot, trying hard to suppress a growing wave of nausea. It’s Ben. The love of my life, and he’s with a woman, and she’s beautiful, and she’s skinny, and I hate her, and I love him. I love him, I love him, I love him.
And I can’t move, but I have to, because I don’t want him to see me, and as I turn and walk away the cloud I’ve been floating on for the past two weeks disappears into thin air, and in its place it feels like there’s a large black rain cloud. I walk slowly down the main street, and call me pathetic, call me a loser, but I can’t help it. I can’t stop the two fat tears that work their way slowly down my cheeks. Chapter Six (p. 58)
Leave him alone, she thinks. He’s not yours. … Nor, Jemima, is he yours, but Jemima, having rarely, if ever, had a crush on someone before, does not see this. Most women, it must be admitted, spend their teenage years falling in and out of love. They are more familiar with the pain of going to a party and watching the object of their young desires end up with another girl. They are well versed in talking to their girlfriends about the one that stole him, and they are equally well aware that, although it might feel it at the time, it is not the end of the world.
But Jemima didn’t have an adolescence like most teenage girls. While her classmates were at parties, experimenting with makeup, clothes, and fumbling in darkened bedrooms on beds piled high with coats, Jemima was at home with her mother, eating, watching television, and daydreaming. Chapter Fourteen (p. 158)