Whether it's a book on a struggling basketball team, a down-and-out boxer getting a second chance, or the girl next door getting the guy of her dreams, I'm a sucker for a root-for-the-underdog story. You can't get more underdog than Jemima J.
Plagued by her weight and all of the issues that go with that, Jemima J has never really had much love in her life. Then the Internet comes along (I know, I know--this book came out in 1999--it's actually kind of charming to read about someone experiencing the phenomenon that is the Worldwide Web for the first time. It really drives home what an integral part of our lives being online really has become. You think, "It seems like a million years ago that we didn't have e-mail or websites on anything you can imagine and some you would never have dreamed!")
The Internet changes everything for Jemima. She starts to take control of her life, and while she is doing that, she meets someone online. She has the opportunity to re-invent herself (she becomes JJ) for this person she has never met. And while you can see where this is going (she's going to have to meet the person eventually and she'll either have to own up to the lies or actually become the person she's pretending to be).
As she works all of this out, your heart goes out to her, and you wish the best for her. She makes many, many relationship rookie mistakes that we can see coming, but are powerless to stop. The author acknowledges this to us in clever little asides.
I would call this story Bridget Jones' Diary Lite (diet reference intentional). The British humor, expressions, and outlooks make the mistakes and foibles of those in relationships seem more charming than if this were an American tale. Why? I don't know, but it's true--at least for me.
This book can be devoured in a single reading. It was the perfect dessert to my less-than-satifying entree (my book club book--more to come on that later this week). It's helping me to digest a great deal of imagery that I wish I did NOT have in my head.
The book makes you feel like you should go work out, while at the same time makes you crave a bacon sandwich. Any book that can do that is worth a read!