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Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review: Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman

Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Format: ARC
Pages: 208
Source: Received for promotional purposes from publisher
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. (Summary from
I will be blunt and say that Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman is not fit for all YA readers. In fact, it's probably not fit for most YA readers. This book deals with teens having sex in a casual, frank manner. It will make many teens uncomfortable, and it will make any adults uncomfortable. But for me, this honesty is one of the only redeeming qualities of this book.

Sex happens amongst teenagers. That's something that everyone needs to face. Some teens are responsible about it, others are not. Angel Cassonetti has a lot of sex. With multiple guys. Well, you know, whatever, there are girls like that who exist. I didn't necessarily think of her as a bad person. But what really got to me is that she didn't really face all that many consequences for her actions. I'm not advocating slut-shaming, but Angel is pretty and popular and everyone thinks she's so sweet. Deep down, I believe she is sweet and she tries to do what's right, but the girl has to work through some serious issues. She continuously pushes her on-and-off boyfriend Joey away and then gets all upset when he finally refuses to take her back. So Angel turns to Cork, her best friend Inggy's boyfriend. They fool around while Inggy is only a short distance away--like right outside the car. Angel tells herself she can quit anytime she wants, but doesn't bother spilling to Inggy. Again, no consequences. Despite all of this, however, there's a little part of me that liked Angel (not connected with her, but liked her). Because it is obvious throughout the novel that she's reached that point of her life where she is trying to find herself. She wants to know what it's like to love and she's trying to decide what she's going to do with her life, and there is a pretty good amount of growth for her throughout the novel. And really, it's hard to blame Angel for the way she is, because her Mom sets the worst examples--at one point in the book, she's caught making out with a teenager. I don't really care much for any of the other characters, as they don't have much depth. Angel's little sister's are absolutely awful, making completely inappropriate jokes and use swear words, even though they are only, like, 6 years old.

There's kind of a lack of plot and, well, excitement. I guess the plot is Angel maturing, discovering that she wants to be more than her mother. But there are no clear goals throughout the book. The entire time I was reading, I was thinking, "What is she trying to accomplish?" This got better toward the end when she secretly hopes to beat her friends for the position of "Miss Merry Christmas." But then I wonder, why does she want to win so bad, anyway? There is also a part of this book that involves a dead baby that creeped me out and quickly diminished some of the credibility this book maintains. Not only was it irrelevant to the plot, it was just plain unrealistic.

Overall, I expected to like Jersey Angel because the major thing I saw complained about was how disgusting Angel's actions are. But I didn't like it. This was not the fun summer read I was hoping for. Though this is probably a book I'll remember for a while, it lacks substance and I cannot recommend it to anyone.

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