Today I have a review of The Lives and Loves of Jesobel Jones by Anna Mainwaring written for you by the author of Me and Mr J, Rachel McIntyre.
Jesobel Jones can bake. In a truly triumphant, appearing-on-TV kind of way. But this means nothing to the rest of the world, because apparently all that cake mix is starting to show – in all the wrong places. So when she lands an invite to the Party of Year by the Boy of Her Dreams, she wonders whether it’s time for a new, improved Jess. But will life still taste as good?
Anna Mainwaring’s debut is a light-hearted and sometimes poignant take on the pressures that face teenage girls. It’s hard to smile in all those selfies when you don’t like the girl who looks back at you. But which is more important – looking perfect or being happy?
Don’t be fooled by the super-cute cupcake on the cover: Jesobel Jones, Anna Mainwairing’s feisty heroine, is not a typical YA protagonist and this story is far from a light and fluffy look at life in Year 11. Instead, the reader is given a window into the mind of a plus- sized teenager, one who is hopelessly in lust with a guy (she thinks) is totally out of her league. There are complications at home too: her sister has an eating disorder and with a pleasant but vague dad, a spliff-smoking Granny and an uptight ex-model for a mum, Jess is struggling to keep her family relationships on track. School isn’t always great, either, despite her ever- loyal mates, Hannah and Izzie. Snipey bullies pick on her for her weight and when her leggings split on non-uniform day, a camera phone is on hand to give Jess a taste of Internet stardom.
Jess’s big talent is baking and unfortunately, her passion for cake has made her the victim of some full-on fat-shaming. From the Mean Girls at school to the more insidious size-policing digs from her mum and even a particularly unpleasant teacher who thinks calling her pupils fat is ok, it seems the whole world wants to see, well, a bit less of Jesobel Jones. Perhaps the only option is to follow sister Cat and live off apples, fresh air and bone-deep misery.
So far, so not light and fluffy.
BUT, Jess is no conformist wimp and this is what I absolutely LOVED about her. There’s so much more to this girl than the width of her thighs. Ok, she’s not a size 10. Who cares? Jess is happy in her own skin and if she wants to drop a few pounds, fine. And if she doesn’t, also fine. Her body, her choice. She’s a witty and sparky narrator who refuses to be defined by the scales and soon recognises that she’s been wasting her time on crush-guy. Far from being out of her league, he is, in fact, not good enough for this girl. In fact, her ideal man has been a lot closer to home all the time.
The book ends with Jess as a self-confident heroine and proponent of the incredibly important message “It’s okay being me.” Turns out life on the skinny side isn’t as rosy as it’s painted. Certainly, it’s the girls with the body image hang ups, like Cat and resident school bully Zara, who reveal themselves to be desperately unhappy, not Jess.
“The Lives and Loves of Jesobel Jones” is hugely entertaining while at the same time reinforcing positive attitudes about body image. There are plenty of laughs along the way as the reader becomes emotionally invested in Jess’s journey from self-doubt to total self-acceptance. The realism of the dialogue and the very real situations the characters face are evidence of an author who is utterly familiar with how teenaged girls tick. I loved this book and I’m sure the target audience will too.
Rachel McIntyre- Author of controversial teen novel “Me and Mr J”
About the Author
Her debut novel, “The Lives and Loves of Jesobel Jones”, follows Jess through the joy and pain of being a teenager in the modern world; first love, friendship, embarrassing families, and asks the big questions in life: how much cake is it really acceptable to eat?
After studying English at university, Anna made the foolish decision to work in corporate finance, not the best career choice for someone who a) is number dyslexic b) hates anything corporate. After travelling, Anna re-trained as an English teacher and works in a girls’ school in Cheshire. When not writing, teaching, or looking after her children, Anna can generally be found walking up a big hill, looking for inspiration.
About the Tour
Monday 6th April
Writing From The Tub
Tuesday 7th April
Luna’s Little Library
Thursday 9th April
Friday 10th April
Live to Read. Read to Live.
Tuesday 14th April
An Awful Lot of Reading
Thursday 16th April
Music Books and Tea
Friday 17th April
The Page Starts Here
Saturday 18th April
Snuggling on the Sofa
Sunday 19th April
Tales of Yesterday