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Book Review – Jemima J

December 30, 2009

Jemima J: A Novel About Ugly Ducklings and Swans

by Jane Green

How much do looks matter?  Does an attractive person have a better chance at a good life?  Is life easier for someone with size 4 jeans, good hair, and designer clothes?  Do these people find better mates?  Do they make more money?  Are they more likely to be successful?  Do they have more friends?  Does society judge you less if you look good? 

This book discusses the classic “if…then” scenario.  If I lose 20 pounds then I will find Mr. Right.  If I have nicer clothes then I will have better friends, etc, etc.  But is that always the way things work?  Is it ever the way things work?

Everyone, at least at one point in their lives can relate to Jemima in some way.  We all struggle with our own insecurities.  Maybe it isn’t weight but height (me).  Maybe it isn’t looks but intelligence.  No matter what our insecurity is, Jemima represents us all.  She is overweight, hates her job, and has a huge crush on an “out of her league” co-worker Ben.  She has no real friends to speak of except for Geraldine, a seemingly shallow co-worker, and two extremely selfish roommates who treat Jemima rather terribly.  Things seem so hopeless that Jemima finds her only solace in food, hence the reason she is over 200 pounds. 

Jemima’s world is suddenly shaken up when she discovers the amazing world of online dating.  Where else but on the internet can a person completely reinvent themselves into what they want to be?  And reinvent she does.  She quickly “meets” Brad, an extremely fit, good-looking gym owner in California and tells him she is a TV personality.  She takes a picture of herself and doctors it to be the person she wants to be – sleek, carefree, and successful.  She sends the photo to Brad and they quickly form a relationship through the internet. 

We soon find out that Brad is her catalyst for change, and trading her bacon sandwiches for a gym membership, Jemima sets off on transformation that leaves her so-called friends in a tailspin.  Her goal….to become the woman in the picture.

Through good old-fashioned exercise and improved eating habits, Jemima manages to trim down to 120 pounds over the next several months.  After reaching her goal weight she reaches out to her co-worker and new friend Geraldine who helps Jemima undergo a hair, makeup, and wardrobe makeover.  To her complete amazement she becomes the girl in the picture. 

Throwing caution to the wind, she embraces her new persona and travels to Los Angeles to meet Brad in person.  Initially she is thrilled to be living her dream – she looks great, has a great looking, wealthy boyfriend, and is living the American dream.   But in an unexpected twist Jemima soon finds out what Brad is really about and realizes that being skinny and pretty might not be the answer to her problems.

This is an amazing, uplifting Cinderella story.  No matter what her weight, I loved Jemima’s character.  The author did a great job making this an easy read but one with a message for all of us.  I read this many times and each time I was able to take away something new. 

Needless to say this book is definitely in my top 10.  As an avid reader, this is a pretty strong statement.  This particular book is Jane Green’s first novel and is truly the best of the bunch.  The only bad part of this book?  The fact that it had to end.

Do you think that attractive people have it easier in life?  Would you rather be intelligent and unattractive?  Or gorgeous and not-so-smart?  Do you know anyone who seems to have it all?  What do you think about that?

19 Comments leave one →
  1. December 30, 2009 6:12 pm

    What a great story! That is how media plays it out! However I know I feel good about myself when I am put together and at a reasonable weight, so why not?

  2. December 30, 2009 6:44 pm

    Great review Ameena. Those kinds of books are great just to chill out. I do think that looks can play a big part in someone achieving some things, for sure. But I know that there are other factors too…it really depends I guess…great review though, enjoyed it. I have a couple I keep intending to put up, but when I go to post I usually am too tired to do so or something…soon 🙂

  3. December 30, 2009 7:11 pm

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! Yours is lovely 🙂

    This book sounds really interesting… I’ve never heard of it before, but your review makes we want to read it! I think I’ll pick it up the next time I’m in a bookstore 🙂

  4. December 30, 2009 8:57 pm

    This is the first book I ever read by Jane Green. LOVE HER. Highly recommend “Swapping Lives” 🙂

  5. December 30, 2009 11:10 pm

    Great review!! I love Jane Green and have not read this book yet but I must get my hands on it.

    I trust your reviews 😉 Thank you!!


  6. December 31, 2009 3:38 am

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and please do let me know if you need help with the gluten free thing!

    I love Jane Green! She is one of my favorites.

  7. December 31, 2009 6:29 am

    I rememember reading this book. I absolutely adore Jane Green novels. Those are tough questions to pose because I truly believe we live in a superficial society still. I don’t think either would be better b/c we’d still have our own individual struggles.

  8. Kate permalink
    December 31, 2009 6:44 am

    i remember reading this book a few years back. it is interesting. i think you really need to be ok with yourself deep down regardless of your weight. i think self confidence makes an individual beautiful!

  9. erintakescontrol permalink
    December 31, 2009 8:36 am

    I MUST read this book! In fact, I’m going to see if my local library carries it. If not, I’ll find it on Amazon! We live in a very materialistic, superficial society and I’m sure this book is a real reminder that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and what glitters isn’t always gold!

  10. December 31, 2009 11:04 am

    wow this sounds like a really good book!! I’ll have to pick it up next time Im out!

    Im only in high school, but it does seem like the more attractive people do have it better socially. Maybe not academically though

  11. December 31, 2009 1:46 pm

    Thanks for visiting my blog! I’ve read Jemima J and enjoyed it. Very quick and entertaining read! I think it’s part how someone looks and part how someone feels about how they look – those books always make you realize someone is the same person as they were when they started, just with a different “wrapping.” If only everyone could realize that! Happy New Years Eve!

  12. December 31, 2009 2:10 pm

    Ooh! Great book review– I’ll have to check this one out!

    Have a great New Year’s Eve!!

  13. December 31, 2009 2:48 pm

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! I look forward to reading more of yours. I am a huge jane Green fan – I think I’ve read every one of her books and I loved Jemima J!

    Happy New Year!

  14. December 31, 2009 8:00 pm

    That book was one of my favorites! I loved it. Actually, I love all of Jane Green’s book.

    I DO think that attractive people have it easier in society. But they also have their own disadvantages: females get jealous, and they may attract unwanted, and annoying attention. Also, we tend to think that attractive people aren’t smart, which isn’t always true.

    That said, I’d rather be intelligent. Because intelligence only gets better with time, while beauty gets worse with time. lol

  15. January 1, 2010 8:16 am

    Happy New Years to you and your beautiful family. May 2010 bring you lots of sweets and happiness.
    *kisses* HH

  16. January 1, 2010 8:18 am

    oops, that was supposed to go to the newest post. As for the Jemima J book, I’ve read it. Love Jane Green.
    I do think attractive people have it easier in life. That being said, no matter how beautiful you are, it fades. THere needs to be something worthwhile underneath the facade.

  17. January 7, 2010 1:15 am

    Will check out if Jane Green is available in Bangalore. 😀


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