Thursday, February 2, 2012

YA Genre book review: Pretty Girls Don't Always Get It All

Review The Jerk Magnet, by Melody Carlson
A Kingston High Book
c. Jan 2012
ISBN: 9780800719623

Pretty girls don’t always get the good guys, high school junior Chelsea Martin learns.

A geeky frump, especially since her mom died, Chelsea suffers from awful teeth, hair and skin, and hides from her image. Worse than zits, her dad blindsides her with a double whammy: he’s getting married again and they’re moving. Chelsea barely knows her new drop-dead gorgeous stepmom2B and grudgingly accepts her advice for new clothes, skin and hair treatment and confidence-building exercises. Realizing she has the chance to start all over in a new city, Chelsea decides to go for it and by the time she’s made friends with the new neighbor girl Janelle and others in her church youth group, school begins.

Since she understands what it feels like to be the one never chosen, a complete makeover from the outside in helps Chelsea deal with prejudice from a direction she never considered. While most of the guys hover over the new hot-babe Chelsea, the girls keep her at arm’s length. Janelle comes clean when they have a heart2heart. Chelsea’s attracting jerk guys who want more than clueless Chelsea can provide. The two of them cook up a scheme to give their friends a lesson they can’t learn in class, but Chelsea’s new-found faith in Jesus may be the only true friend she has left if they bomb.

This is a such a sweet book. I wouldn’t hesitate to give it to the girlchildren in my life. There are lots of tips about what really counts in life, how to read hormonal guys and to consider a person’s true motives. Empathy and sympathy go hand in hand in good relationships. Melody Carlson has a huge, lengthy career, and her high school fashion and talk feels natural to me, although I know the bits and pieces of high school life she shares are more what I wish than reality. With teachers in my family, I dislike the portrayal of predator teachers, but I know they’re out there and the students’ instincts and actions are correctly portrayed in this piece of fiction. The pacing of the story kept me turning pages, the premise achieved without feeling like every loose end is tied up in a pink bow and delivered with sweets.

Available January 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

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