Book: Jemima J.
Author: Jane Green
Genre: Contemporary romance
Synopsis: This book follows Jemima Jones, an overweight writer for The Kilburn Herald, a local paper. From the first page, it is clear to see that the 27 year old is obsessed with her weight and what she thinks people think about it. She wishes she were slimmer but she just does not have the willpower to commit to a better diet and exercise. To her, food is a source of security and unhappiness. Her inability to lose weight constantly frustrates her as she is convinced that once she is a slender person, she will be happy. Spending her days fantasizing about what her life would be like were she slimmer, crushing on the office hunk, Ben, and discovering the Internet, she is okay with her routine. But the thing is, the more she learns about the internet, the more she realizes she can be anyone she wants to be based on the anonymity that comes with talking to people behind a keyboard. When one of the people she meets in the internet decides that they want to meet her in person, Jemima makes a decision that will change her life for good.
What I really loved about this book was the core message behind the story. We live in a society in which we are judged for anything and everything. Appearance (oh she’s too thin, oh she’s too fat, he’s so short, he’s too tall etc.), what we do for a daily living,what you believe in, what and who you choose to love and so much more. Amidst this judgment, sometimes it is so hard to find happiness. From time to time, one may get a temporary sense of joy that results from receiving validation from others but at the end of the day, everyone needs to be able to find happiness that comes from within. A sort of happiness that external factors cannot take away from you simply by their opinion. This is what Jemima’s journey was all about.
Another aspect I found to be interesting about this book was its narration. I am not sure how to explain this but the story was told from Jemima’s perspective, from Ben’s perspective and from time to time, the author gave sort of a voice over as to what us as the audience, or those observing from the outside, were feeling. I thought this was extremely clever of Jane Green and of this was ever turned into a film, it would be super great if the same sort of voice over was done.
Here is an example of some lines from the book that show what I mean (spoiler alert!):
“Would we, Jemima? Would we really? Well, maybe Jemima Jones is right, because it is oh so very easy to be blinded by what people look like, and yes, she’s right, Brad is the ultimate specimen of the perfect man. But let’s be honest here, they hardly know each other, and although they like the look of each other, which is, as we all know, a good start, looks—and Jemima of all people should be remembering this—aren’t everything.”
Lastly, the setting of this book is in the early 2000’s when the Internet was just becoming a thing. Social media was something that had not been thought of yet and I am not sure how I would have survived such an era knowing what I know now. It was interesting to read about the characters’ fascination with the internet, how they learn to google and make friends through chat boxes. It gave the whole book a very interesting angle.
“Sometimes in life, you have to make things happen. That you can change your life if you’re willing to let go of the old and actively look for the new. That even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
“But nobody really bothers to look for that, nobody really bothers to look beneath the surface appearance.”
“Amazing how spending some money, especially when you haven’t got it, can perk you up.”
I hope you pick this book up and enjoy it as much as I did!
(Cover image courtesy of Chris Galbraith).