Author: Kim Culbertson
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Read Time: 1 Day
Tag Words: Italy, drama club, coming of age, best friends, falling in love, cheating, travel, relationships, unplugging from technology, making mistakes, picking up the pieces, being an artist
Jess was suppose to travel to Italy with her boyfriend, Sean, not with a package from her best friend on the top twenty reasons Sean is a Slimy Jerk Bastard.
Reason one being that Jessa caught him cheating on her the night before in the costume barn with Natalie “The Boob Job” Sloane.
Jessa set out to Italy to prove to Sean she wasn’t as weak as she feels, but what she learns there will truly make her strong.
I love it, I beyond love it, I personally connect to this MC, Jessa, to this story, to how she sees the world, to the longings of her heart.
The writing is also my kind of “fluff.” Culbertson isn’t trying to shove pretentious philosophy down your throat, but neither is she doing that incredibly annoying rambly teenage thing some YA authors do. Her writing is a combination of small doses of subtle, lyrical, poetic and smart. Instructions really hit a happy medium for me in all kinds of ways and I would sing it’s praises to anyone who would listen.
My favorite part of Culbertson’s second novel is the layered, subtle relationships between all the different characters. Culbertson made each of her characters human, including cheating Natalie and scorned Jessa. In the end Jessa apologizes for all the comments she has made about Natalie’s breasts, which I really appreciate for reasons that I won’t get into here. I was so surprised by this book, the characters and the writing style; I hope it surprises you too.
This book is like Anna and the French Kiss, mixed with Letters to Juliet and 13 Little Blue Envelopes. You should read it, and I really hope it speaks to you as loudly as it spoke to me!
Notes on the Names:
Jessa is really pretty, isn’t it? It can stand on it’s own just fine as a replacement for tired, androgynous Jessie and it can be a nickname for Jessamine, the British favorite slated to retire 90’s favorite Jessica.
I think I have a new name crush!
Thoughts on the Cover:
I think it’s pretty and matches the tone of the story. The colors are muted, but the character is all lit up and hopeful. There is a small green journal in her coat pocket. All good.
Parental Book Review *spoilers*
Jessa catches Sean and Natalie in the costume barn without clothes on.
Some mild sexual innuendo.
Jessa throws a soda in Sean’s face.
Everyone calls Natalie “The Boob Job” and this is personally offensive to me. I love the way Culbertson handles it though, in the end there are apologies all around.
Jessa kisses her young teacher and immediately realizes her mistake.