Thursday, May 15, 2008

Looking for JJ (2007)

I didn't do it on purpose. Honest. Somehow I just read two books in a row about girls trying to shed their past. Anne Cassidy is a British writer who has written a story about a girl who made a terrible mistake. This time, however, it is a ten-year old girl, Jennifer, who hit her friend, Michelle, with a bat killing her. The events leading up to this tragedy involve a mother making poor choices, not considering how they might affect her child. The victim was a rather obnoxious child who didn't much think about how her actions affected people. Throw into the mix a family with a sick mother, an absentee father, two nutso brothers and a girl with little backbone. The mother had to go to the hospital so the girl, Lucy, moved into Michelle's house, putting more pressure on Jennifer and Michelle's relationship. Things came to a head when Lucy's brothers put into plain language the unfortunate career choice Jennifer's mother was taking and Michelle made one thoughtless remark too many.
The story jumps back and forth from Jennifer's present life-in-hiding to her past. She spent a few years in prison and was released to live with her parole officer with a new identity. It wasn't easy to hide a secret like this especially with the press clamoring for a good story. When it looked like her cover was blown, what would happen to her? Would her new boyfriend understand? Would she be able to attend the university.
The language and pacing of this story feel a little awkward like many British novels do but it is well worth the time. My rating for this book: +++

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