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The Jerk Magnet: Life at Kingston High, Book 1

Review

The Jerk Magnet: Life at Kingston High, Book 1

Melody Carlson adds yet another true-to-life novel to her impressive resume of over 200 books with THE JERK MAGNET. Teens will flock to its title, and Carlson’s witty ability to capture and hold her readers’ attention will keep them there.

The story opens with an internal conversation Chelsea Martin is holding within herself about the best way to handle rejection: simply expect it. Chelsea, more geek than gorgeous, is feeling the sting of rejection by her peers and wondering when, if ever, her classmates will grow up. Most importantly though, how can she cope with another two years of the same-old, same-old rejection? Happy to see summer arrive, Chelsea mentally charts out her vacation, most notably to be filled with lots of time on her phony Facebook page, reading sci-fi and fantasy, and catching up with favorite television programs. After enduring the grind of a grueling academic school year (plus the rejection overload), Chelsea feels she’s earned the mental break from life.

"Melody Carlson adds yet another true-to-life novel to her impressive resume of over 200 books with THE JERK MAGNET. Teens will flock to its title, and Carlson’s witty ability to capture and hold her readers’ attention will keep them there."

Too bad that reality shows often imitate life, as Chelsea soon discovers, when her grand plans of vegging out all summer are abruptly halted with one summons to the breakfast table by her widowed father, who announces that his girlfriend, Kate Bradley, is soon to become his wife. Chelsea groans --- and not too silently --- as she offers up plenty of outrageous disgust and does a pretty good job throwing a tantrum. Retreating to her room doesn’t change the fact that within six weeks’ time, she and her father will be relocating to San Jose, California, and soon thereafter welcoming Kate into their home as her new stepmom.

Trying mightily hard to accept the news, Chelsea rejects Kate’s invitation to be in their wedding before issuing another type of invitation. Kate thinks she knows Chelsea’s problem: a lack of self-esteem similar to what she endured as a teen. The now-perfectly beautiful Kate takes on the task of giving Chelsea, her wardrobe and attitude a complete makeover. Given the option of packing or spending time shopping, Chelsea opts to place herself under Kate’s expert fashion guidance before their move.

It doesn’t take long before Chelsea is buying in to Kate’s external and internal makeovers. Beginning with a shopping spree like no other, Kate undresses Chelsea’s ideas of what it means to be transformed from gawky geek to runway gorgeous. While Chelsea loves what she sees, this struggling-to-be-accepted-for-herself teen at first doesn’t grasp how altering her appearance will change the way others see and treat her. Once the makeover is complete, she and her dad begin their road trip to California, and it doesn’t take too many miles before guys begin tripping over themselves to get close to Chelsea, who is overwhelmed and a bit frightened by the attention.

No sooner than they settle into their new home than neighbors and classmates of Chelsea come calling, and she learns how to quickly navigate the treacherous waters of being the new and hottest girl at school (and dealing with the jerks she can’t seem to shake). With lots of mistakes and some humbling mishaps, Chelsea begins to understand that even beauty has a cost of its own, and she does some real soul-searching about who she truly is (inside and out). Like every season of life, Chelsea realizes that her choices determine where and with whom she’ll end up.

The first book in Carlson’s Life at Kingston High series is believable and at times a bit painful to read. She knows how to stir up those “wanting to be forgotten” moments of rejection and isolation everyone experiences, yet laces every heartache with hope, humor and lighthearted fun.

Reviewed by Michele Howe on January 20, 2012

The Jerk Magnet: Life at Kingston High, Book 1
by Melody Carlson