Book Review – Jemima J
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?