Book Review: The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti

This is one of those books that I read in an afternoon. I sat on the couch while Avalon watched Dora and read. I stirring boiling pots and set the table with one hand while I read. I tucked Kaidin into bed absently while my eyes didn’t leave the page*. And then I poured myself a glass of wine and drank that one handed while waiting for Richard to arrive. I could not put the book down. And when I finally finished it, I felt a little undone** and a little raw and I emailed the author to thank her for writing the book, which I almost never do. It was a one line note about how it left me feeling wonder-filled and more than a little voyeuristic. And the very next day I got:

Hi Shannon –

What a sweet note! Thank you so much for writing, and for reading JADE. I’m happy you liked it. Wonder-filled… Lovely. 🙂

Fondly,

Deb Caletti

Don’t you love it when authors actually take the time to write back? So sweet.

Anyway, the Nature of Jade is about a 17 year old girl with acute anxiety disorder (one of the ones that I have) who signs up as a zoo volunteer to help care for the elephants. Through the elephants, she meets a young man with a toddler and is fascinated by him. Arranging an ‘accidental’ meeting turns into a date and then dinner and then more. Jade finds herself rapidly falling in love with Sebastian and Bo and even with Sebastian’s acerbic grandmother. But of course, what’s a relationship without it’s skeleton in the closet? Where is Bo’s mum? Why doesn’t Sebastian want to talk about it? And when it comes down to it, will Jade do the right thing and risk losing her love forever?

If Deb Caletti doesn’t suffer from anxiety then I applaud the research she has done. Yes the book does go into detail about anxiety, it’s causes and physical symptoms and why it can be so debilitating for a teenager and this detail may upset or put off some readers. But it’s so real. And I have to applaud Jade (and Caletti) for delving into an illness that is so often stigmatised and shelved into the dark recesses of society. It’s so common, at least where I live, and yet no one talks about it, especially in fiction. Especially not with such an accurate portrayal of a young girl suffering from anxiety while trying to deal with other things – end of high school, first love, parental problems. i felt quite voyeuristic while reading this book, as if I was actually peeking through a literary window into the life of a real girl.

This book is easy to get stuck in. It may be a bit of a hard read for some people who see themselves mirrored in the main characters and I’d suggest to any anxiety sufferers to make sure you are in a safe place before you dive in as some scenes may trigger an attack. But it’s worth reading – humorous, sad, real, accurate and all poured together with gorgeous writing and a character who is genuinely likable, despite her (or perhaps because of) her quirks. Track down a copy today and when you finish, move onto to Caletti’s other novels, which are all gorgeous and engaging. xx

*I know, mother of the year right? He totally understands 🙂
**Although, that could have been partially because one glass of wine turned into 3…

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