“Take a Peek” book reviews are short and (possibly) sweet, keeping the commentary brief and providing a little peek at what the book’s about and what I thought.
Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya Henry 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?
I wouldn’t normally pick up a book about a romance between a small town girl and the superstar she meets cute… but this is my third book by Miranda Kenneally, and I went into Jesse’s Girl expecting something special. And that’s exactly what I got.
Maya dresses goth/punk, loves 80s music (especially Madonna and Queen), and wants to spend her life rocking out with an awesome guitar. The band she started has kicked her out, though, and her dream of auditioning on Wannabe Rocker seems to be slipping away. But meeting Jesse opens her eyes to the idea of taking risks to get what she really wants, as well as seeing that celebrity and superstardom come at a price… and that the lives of the rich and famous can be awfully lonely without a loving family to back you up.
That may sound like a lot to pack into one young adult novel, but it works. The first half of the book is a “one special day” type of story, where Maya and Jesse start as semi-hostile strangers, have a ton of crazy adventures as they both break rules and defy expectations, and end up connected in ways that go way beyond the attraction they both feel.
Maya is shown as a strong girl who needs an even stronger infusion of confidence. She learns to open up, and in turn gets Jesse to start realizing that he doesn’t have to give up his own dreams in order to be loved.
Jesse and Maya are well-developed characters, with flaws as well as talents. I appreciate the economic diversity that the author features in her novels. Maya’s family is proudly working class, and every dollar counts. Maya can’t take anything for granted, and meets her financial challenges head on without shame. It’s interesting to see how she views Jesse’s financial success and life of creature comforts, and yet still values her messy, loud family with their beat-up cars more than anything money can buy.
Fans of Miranda Kenneally’s earlier books will be delighted by this return to Hundred Oaks, especially as favorite characters from earlier books show up here in supporting roles. Reading Jesse’s Girl makes me realize that I need to go back and read the three other books by this author that I’ve missed!
Jesse’s Girl is a moving story of teens finding their way, a tribute to the power of romance, and a nice spotlight on the unbelievable strength that a loving family and supportive friends can provide. I’m really impressed with the author’s ability to create characters who seem both familiar and fresh, as well as her engaging storytelling. I was really swept up in the fun and feelings of this book, and recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good contemporary tale… particularly if you like a bit of a Southern twang in your fiction!
Title: Jesse’s Girl
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication date: July 7, 2015
Length: 304 pages
Genre: Young adult contemporary fiction
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley