Book Review: Jersey Angel

Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman
Release Date:  May 14th 2013 
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Pages: 201 
Source: ALA

It’s the summer before senior year and the alluring Angel is ready to have fun. She’s not like her best friend, Inggy, who has a steady boyfriend, good grades, and college plans. Angel isn’t sure what she wants to do yet, but she has confidence and experience beyond her years. Still, her summer doesn’t start out as planned. Her good friend Joey doesn’t want to fool around anymore, he wants to be her boyfriend, while Angel doesn’t want to be tied down. As Joey pulls away, and Inggy tours colleges, Angel finds herself  spending more time with Inggy’s boyfriend, Cork. With its cast of vivid and memorable characters, this tale from the Jersey shore is sure to make some waves.

Short of it: There is something about this fast-paced book that is addicting and hard to put down. However, I’m still not sure that means it is good. There was a lot of promise to Jersey Angel but ultimately I think it fell flat for me.

Plot: Jersey Angel is your classic slice of life story. There is no real conflict, plot, or even ending. Instead, it focuses on Angel’s day-to-day life, which includes hook-ups, teen pregnancy, family issues and parties with friends. While I’ve never been a fan of slice of lives (and still am not) this one is somehow addicting. While I had trouble putting it down, I was ultimately let down. There was so much potential that Bauman could have tapped into but merely glossed over. One of my biggest issues is the lack of consequences. Angel does a lot of questionable things, including betraying her best friend, but never has to deal with any fallout. Internally she does feel guilty, but she doesn’t stop and I had high hopes of her deceit being found out.

The one thing I did like was Angel coming to terms with her future. She’s always known that she’s not cut out for college or some big shot career. While I think her choice is aiming low, it seems to be one she’ll be happy with at least for a while. Who knows, maybe in a couple years she’ll go back to get her degree, but for now, she seems satisfied with the road ahead of her. Personally, I have known a lot of people like this and it was nice to see their choices represented for once.

Character: I can understand Angel, but I can’t relate to her. Honestly, I felt sorry for her. I saw her as a weak female who let sex rule her life. I don’t even believe it was because she lacked a moral compass. She knew what she was doing was wrong, but she didn’t have the willpower to stop it. Angel reminds me a lot of those girls who will do anything for attention/to feel loved and instead of finding love they get empty, meaningless sex. Of course, her mother was basically an older version of Angel, which may explain a lot of Angel’s attitude and actions. Angel is by no means a role model, but I do think quite a few teenage girls will be able to connect and relate to her. My only hope is that they’ll realize this lifestyle won’t give them what they crave and be willing to find the boys that will care for them past sex. By the end of the book, Angel is basically at this point. I’m not sure she’s fully ready to give up her heart, but it does feel like she’ll give up the sleeping around.

Romance: Romance does not exist in Jersey Angel. Seriously, I feel like all the relationships depicted were completely and utterly unhealthy. And in Angel’s case, her life was just one hook-up after another. When I say there is a lot of sex, I do mean a lot. It’s pretty to safe to say there is almost a sex scene per chapter. While I do think that pushes this book into the older teen realm, I don’t feel as if it was overly graphic. There were a few basic details/descriptions here and there, but nothing that made me cringe/blush. Honestly, it wasn’t even that steamy. Angel treated the act of sex as someone else may treat brushing their teeth. It fulfilled a desire, but there was little to nothing sexy about it.

Writing: This is an area I don’t really have any complaints about. The more I’ve thought about Jersey Angel the more I realize it was Bauman’s writing that kept me reading. I know this isn’t the most favorable review in the world, but when I say I couldn’t put the book down I mean it. Had it not been nearing 4 am I would have easily finished it in one sitting. For me, that speaks volumes of her ability to spin a story. While this one didn’t quite work for me, I will be looking into other books she has written.

Librarian-Mode: I don’t know exactly what to pair this one up with. Part of me wants to say Gossip Girls, but I’m not sure that’s completely accurate. I do think teens who like the show Jersey Shore may like Jersey Angel. While not the same, I could easily see the plot of Jersey Angel being an episode on the Jersey Shore, especially when you consider the crazy hook-ups and partying. However, with it being a YA bodice ripper, it will pretty much sell itself to teens.

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