10 February 2014

Book Review: The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson

"Jessie has always wanted to find her real dad. But when her mum dies in a tragic accident, she thinks any hope of discovering the truth is gone too.

It isn't until Jessie goes off the rails, that her stepdad makes a shocking announcement: her father is legendary rock star and former hell-raiser, Johnny Jefferson. Suddenly finding herself the daughter of a global superstar, Jessie is soon sucked into the LA lifestyle - paparazzi, parties and hot guitar-wielding boys included!

But despite the excitement, Jessie's still reeling from her mother's death and the revelation about Johnny. Can he live up to her expectations and help her move on? One thing's for sure, Jessie's tiny little world has just got a whole lot bigger…"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson as a paperback or an eBook now.

I am a huge fan of Paige Toon's work, and have been since I read her debut novel Lucy in the Sky a good few years ago now. I've looked forward to each of her new titles, usually cleverly inter-linked with her previous books, and this time is no exception. However, Paige's latest book The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson is a bit different - it's Paige's first foray into the world of Young Adult literature. I'm not usually a reader of young adult books, but given that I've loved all of Paige's others books, and this was a book that would tie in with her adult novels, I just had to give it a go, and I'm pleased that I did!

Jessie always thought she was a pretty normal girl. She lives at home with her mum, and her step-dad Paul, who also happens to be one of Jess' teachers at school. But her happy(ish) home life is destroyed when her mum suddenly dies in a horrible accident. Jessie is left bereft, and starts to go off the rails, testing her relationship with her step-father. When she is told out of the blue that her biological father is none other than famous rock star Johnny Jefferson, her world is thrown upside-down. She's sent over to LA to meet her father, his wife Meg and her two new-half brothers. She's sucked in to her new world, full of paparazzi, money, famous faces and boys... Without her mother, Jessie finds herself drawn to her new father, but is a bit worried about leaving her old world behind.

Those of us who have read Paige's adult novels will know the characters of Johnny Jefferson and his wife Meg from the books that they have previously starred in (Johnny Be Good and Baby Be Mine). I have always loved Johnny, despite him being a bit of a bad boy, and was really excited to see a different side to him - that of a father to a teenage girl! The book is written in the first person from Jessie's perspective, and Paige really gets into the head of the young, confused girl. We meet her when she's struggling with her step-father - she wants to go out and party, drink and smoke all the time but he is trying to make her see sense. She's hanging out with other kids, has lost contact with her best friend and is just clearly struggling. It's easy to feel sympathetic towards Jessie, she's young, hurting and confused and doesn't know to deal with her emotions. Yes, she makes some bad choices but what teenager doesn't?

Where I felt she really came into her own as a character was when she went over to LA to meet her father and his family. She's very shy, excited to be in LA but also unsure of how to react to everything around her. It seemed so realistic as I was reading, and I was really hoping that Meg and Johnny would be really nice to poor Jessie! Of course they were, and I loved reading about how their relationship changes as they get to know each other better, and how Jessie becomes accustomed to their somewhat crazy lifestyle. I loved reading about it from an outsider's perspective, someone who isn't used to being followed everywhere, having her picture all over the internet every time she leaves the house. Jessie's reactions are really normal, and I felt she kept really grounded throughout the book. Johnny's house sounds wonderful, complete with huge blue swimming pool, sumptuous bedrooms and copious rooms, Jessie's awestruck descriptions really make the place come to life.

I love that despite having the drama of meeting her biological rock star dad, that Jessie is still dealing with the trials and tribulations that come with being a teenager. She's got a boy back home who she is interested in, and who seems to like her, but she's met Jack at a party she went to in LA and seems torn about who she likes more, and how to be around these boys! It just reiterates to the reader that Jessie really is just a normal teenager placed in crazy circumstances, and I just really loved her. I think a lot of teenagers reading will be able to relate to Jessie and the things she goes through - the worries she has and the battles she has with the adults around her, Paige Toon has done really well in conveying a teenagers world in the book and it was fun to read about, but did make me glad I've now thankfully passed that stage of my life!

This was a fantastic read that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. I didn't mind that it was YA at all, in fact, it was quite easy to forget that once I started reading, I just enjoyed the narrative of Jessie and her story. Paige has such a talent of bringing her characters to life, and I am pleased that this is the first in a series, so we have lots more adventures to come with Jessie, Johnny and Meg! Anyone who has read the books about Johnny Jefferson is going to want to read this to catch up on the latest in his crazy life, but this opens Paige up nicely to a new market too, and will make younger readers catch on to her, hopefully get them wanting to read her adult books as well! A fantastic book, enjoyable for all ages!

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