Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman
Random House Children's Books, May 8, 2012
Read for 2012 Standalone Challenge
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.I so wanted to love this book. It's supposed to be about the real people who live at the Jersey Shore, not the tourists that we see on MTV. I loved Rosie & Skate a few years back, and thought this book would be more of the same. In addition, I generally have a very soft spot for books about New Jersey, particularly if they're written by NJ-area writers (hence my love for all things Kieran Scott, Megan McCafferty, and Eireann Corrigan, among others). Now, going into this I discovered on the author bio that Beth Ann Bauman lives in NY, but her author bio says that "She lives in New York City, but will always be a Jersey girl at heart," so I was hoping for the best. In retrospect, I should have realized that no where does it say that Beth Ann has ever actually LIVED in Jersey. Which is, after all, what makes a Jersey Girl a Jersey Girl.
Unfortunately, I was not enthralled with this book. I originally gave it 2 stars on Goodreads but after writing this review I had to change it to one. Angel, our narrator, is simply an unlikable person, and that makes it hard for us to care about her and what happens to her. She hooks up with whoever she feels like but refuses to commit to anyone, and yet her society treats her like some kind of goddess instead of a slut. Apparently she's gorgeous (although all I remember anyone focusing on is her "great tits and ass"), and she is, admittedly, a pretty decent big sister, but she is the WORST friend a person could have, and I really didn't find anything to like about her. Seriously, you need a friend like Angel like you need a frontal lobotomy. She is not loyal and has no qualms about taking whatever she feels should be hers, for no reason other than she wants it. Ugh.
There was just so much in this novel that was unbelievable that I would almost call this a fantasy book instead of a contemporary novel. Angel's mother lets her live in a house by herself all winter long, and has for years (the girl is 17)? Really? NONE of these kids' parents care that they're sneaking into and out of each other's bedrooms at 3 in the morning? Come on.
And honestly, the term "benny" was absolutely misused throughout this book. It's an acronym, Google it.
This was a really, really hard review for me. It's actually been sitting as a draft for weeks, because I feel that it's really harsh and I don't want to be that reviewer that makes an author cry (let's just pretend I have that much of an impact LOL). At the same time, I don't want to be the reviewer that absolutely LOVES every book she reads, either. Ultimately, however, my desire to be honest won out. I will say that if you're looking for a decent Jersey read, try Rosie & Skate by the same author.
Enjoy your reading!