April Jones – a high school freshman lives with her parents and younger brother, Alfie, in a suburb of a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland. She longs to ‘fit in’, but doesn’t even really know where she wants to ‘fit’. She has wild, curly hair and little in the way of a figure, so she longs to look different. She plays the trumpet in the band, and she loves it, yet she is fearful that this will make her seem ‘nerdy’. Most of the kids walk to school every day, but she lives too far out and has to take the bus. On the second day of school another girl arrives at the bus stop. She is pretty, vivacious, and wonder upon wonder, she befriends April! Her name is Jasmine.
And Jasmine has a huge secret…
Though I found this story very slow paced, it turned out to be a pleasurable read. A coming-of-age story where we meet April Jones when she is starting high school as a freshman. A new school, new friends, new experiences, all serve to make April the woman she has become.
We follow April though the stressful days of trying to fit in, having her first real crush, going to her first wild party, all the while trying to keep up her good grades and look after her little brother, who is being bullied.
The novel reminded me of my own school days. The loners, the cliques, the popular, the nerds, the outcasts, the loyalties, the betrayals, the friendships, the embarrassments, and the overwhelming insecurity.
The book discusses the merits and drawbacks of mainstreaming special needs children into the school system. It also touches upon the issue of transgender teens. Mostly though, it celebrates how different, and very special, each human being is.
Anyone who likes a fast-paced novel will not be happy with this one. The pace was so slow in places that it seemed like I was reading it in ‘real time’. However, if you bear with it, you’ll be rewarded with an acute study of a young girl trying to find her place in the world.
I’ve had this title on my Kindle for a few years now. I read it via my Kindle Unlimited subscription. All opinions are my own.
ISBN: 9781511589918 – ASIN: B00UG9S2D2 – 348 pages
Joanna Franklin Bell is a writer living outside of Baltimore, Maryland. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from Goucher College and a BA in English from Dickinson College. Her nonfiction work has appeared in Baltimore Magazine, Scary Mommy, Motherwell, P.S. I Love You, Elephant Journal, and Medium.