Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
Connected poems, ranging in length from three lines to two pages, compellingly tell the story of Jen, a self-proclaimed jinx. Here, Wild (The Very Best of Friends; Our Granny) gently traces the ebb and flow of Jen's observations and changing moods as she weathers the tragic, unrelated deaths of two consecutive boyfriends. The volume also offers an intimate glimpse of those closest to the teen: her parents, who divorced when Jen's sister, Grace, was "born imperfect"; Jen's ill-fated boyfriends, who are haunted by different forms of personal demons; and Jen's best friends, "ruthlessly" honest Ruth, whose "kind eyes" note everything, unselfconscious Connie, a lesbian, and starved-for-attention Serena. Poems from several different perspectives make readers privy to both close-up and distant views of Jen's world as she moves from "good girl" to "slut" ("The word is so juicily sexual / slut/ slot/ slit," she remarks) in the wake of her grief. The protagonist's bouts of anger, grief and self-doubt melt in a ray of hope that emerges unexpectedly from the boy who accidentally killed Jen's second beau. Though it's sometimes necessary to read between the lines (especially when gleaning a sense of her first boyfriend, "Good-time Charlie"), many of the brief narratives precisely capture the spirit of a character, feeling or moment. Together, the poems create something larger: a portrait of a young woman pulling herself out of despair. Ages 14-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-When Jen's boyfriend commits suicide, she is lonely, sad, bewildered, and rebellious. During this bleak period, she starts drinking and having casual sex, but then meets Ben and begins the long journey back to normalcy. After he dies, a classmate calls her "Jinx," and Jen decides the name fits her. Seeking to strike out at Hal, the person responsible for Ben's accident, and not realizing or caring where her angry words fall, Jinx conducts a secret, malicious assault. It is not until she actually meets and becomes friends with Hal that she is able to begin putting aside the hurt and anger that have plagued her since childhood. In confronting and dealing with the family issues that have been a lingering shadow all her life, the teen learns that love and forgiveness are a first step to maturity. This newfound acceptance and understanding of herself, her family, and her friends enables Jinx to want to be Jen again. In a style reminiscent of Mel Glenn's Who Killed Mr. Chippendale? (Dutton, 1996), the story is told in verse form. This technique allows the author to acquaint readers with each character and to weave a powerful story of teen angst. The voices are distinct, and all ring true, giving insight into the parents' lives and concerns as well as those of the teens. While the setting is in Australia, the central theme of family dynamics is so universal that it could be anywhere.-Sharon Morrison, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, OK (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr. 9^-12. In a series of short poems, Wild tells the story of Jinx, self-named because her boyfriends have died in rapid succession--one by his own hand and one who slips and hits his head after being called a name by another teen. Verse-form novels are becoming so familiar that they are beginning to sound alike, but Wild has ultimately made a wise choice by choosing the form here. The plot (angry girl torments the name-caller she deems responsible for her friend's death and then falls in love with him) is predictable. The surprise is in the intricate, vivid language Wild uses ("hearts don't just break--/ that's too easy, / too quick, / like dropping a plate"), and in the way she gives each member of the large cast of characters his or her own poetry. Among the supporting players are Jinx's mother and her story of her unrequited love, and Jinx's sister, Grace, who has Down syndrome, and is the reason their father, the "Rat," left the family. Jinx's friends, both the girls and the boys, are also revealingly introduced. But perhaps most noteworthy of all is Wild's talent for weaving ribbons of want, need, and love through her characters' stories, entwining them together beautifully. --Ilene CooperReference Books BulletinReviews
Horn Book Review
(High School) A great deal happens in the free-verse poems that make up this Australian novel; that the author makes us care about all of it is a considerable feat. The poems are written from the perspective of many characters, but the central story is the transformation of Jen (good daughter, sister, and student) to ""Jinx,"" the stony, spiteful girl whose boyfriends keep dying. Jen's freefall first love with Charlie is vividly evoked; the varying perspectives allow us to see Jen's dizzying infatuation with the beautiful, wild boy as well as the hidden, dark fears that lead to his suicide. The ensuing affections of nice-boy Ben help lift Jen from her grieving pit of drinking and promiscuity, but in revealing Ben's one great weakness, the author plants the seeds for a second tragedy. While the two deaths figure prominently in Jen's development, they are far from mere contrivances; the loss of each boy resonates deeply in the portraits of his family members. Wild has an empathetic ear for her teenaged characters as well as their parents, and Jen's own family is especially well drawn. The characters are portrayed in both broad strokes and small details-the father who once abandoned his family now seeking forgiveness; Jen's mother buying all new undergarments in the rush of a new love. Each poem has something to contribute, and while some may be stronger than others as individual entries, the power of the work is decidedly in the whole. Circling imagery symbolizes growth and healing for a number of characters: Jen's friend Serena feels ""shipwrecked"" at the outset, her inattentive parents as ""remote as islands,"" and on an island they are finally reunited. Artist Jen keeps a replica of a long and thin Etruscan statue that she finds ""strange but beautiful,"" and a long, thin boy proves instrumental in her healing. The generous catharsis may be more romance than realism, but it is honestly earned through the depth of the novel's characterization. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Book Review
In the style of so many new narratives in verse, Wild uses individual poems to tell the poignant, intense story of a girl unlucky in love. She allows each character their individual voices but focuses the tale on Jen, as the girl reels from the teenage suicide of her first boyfriend. Jen, who insists on being called "Jinx" after two boyfriends die, begins the story in full resistance against her mother. She falls in love with a wild, creative boy whom no one realizes is in a severe depression. When he hangs himself, Jen spirals downward into drinking, finally meeting a boy who falls victim to a freak accident. Blaming another boy for the tragedy, Jen terrorizes him and his family until she feels remorse for her attacks and then falls in love with him. Finally happy, Jen begins to appreciate not only her own mother, but her estranged father and stepmother, whom she had hated. Wild concentrates not just on Jen's story, however. By interweaving the thoughts of every character in the story, she creates a fully developed community of Jen's friends and family. Young readers will see how all of these people contribute to her growth. Jinx emerges as a subtly wrought, deeply affecting story dealing with friendship and familial and romantic love. The device of the poetry will attract many young readers; the skill with which it is told will keep them hooked. (Fiction. YA)