Review: The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson – Paige Toon.

jessie jeffersonJessie is a teenage girl, whose fifteenth birthday changed her life. Her mother was killed on the way to pick up her birthday cake, and even six months on she’s still struggling to deal with it. Smoking,drinking, acting out – she even pushes away her step father, and finds solace in new friends, creating distance between her and her best friend, Libby.

She never knew the identity of her real father, and one day she finally questions Stu, her step dad, on the off chance. Her dad is Johnny Jefferson, rocker-cum-worldwide-superstar. She scoffs, enraged that he’d mock her over such a serious issue, but, as it turns out, he’s telling the truth.

And here’s why I like it: It’s plausible. Usually rockstar/groupie stories in any sense are cheesy, and the band names are awful. Here, they seem normal, and her mother was just a rocker who fell in love with a band and followed them on tour. What teen hasn’t been there, really?

Jessie is a teenager, and acts like one. She can be bratty and unreasonable, but has difficulty coping with the bigger picture at times. She has her childish moments of needing to cling to people, whether or not she recognises it herself. The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson follows her as her life is turned upside down, all the while allowing her to come to terms with many things and mature in the process.

Is it realistic? Well, if being dropped into a superstar household is realistic – sure! Jokes aside, Toon clearly deals with issues too many adults are afraid to attribute to a 15 year old. Drinking, smoking – many youngsters act out that way, or just act that way. Lust, relationships – teens are probably most likely to have the obsessive, consuming feelings, especially when presented with ‘hot’, rockstar material. Fooling around isn’t unheard of, nor are steamy make out sessions.

She’s into an older boy, one who has fooled around with a lot of girls. It’s treated as normal (not celebrated or chastised), but it’s almost just shrugged off as what some people do. And that’s kind of refreshing. There’s a lot of books that slam people for doing that. In this case, the character is 18; had Jessie been quite as promiscuous it would have been a murkier issue. But given how many books that underhandedly cast judgement, it’s nice to see it being a non-issue in a sense.

It’s just a really good book. I admit, while I’d heard good reviews, I still expected a lot of clichés and overdone moments – I’ve read my fair share of horrid rockstar plotlines. But here, it was really enjoyable. Kind of stoked to see the next step in the Jessie Jefferson journey, now she’s back home in boring ol’ England.


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