This Is Not the Jess Show

Quirk. Nov. 2020. 304p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781683691976.
Gr 6-10–Carey’s latest is an entertaining thrill ride set in the 1990s that will keep readers guessing even after the twist is revealed. Jess Flynn has a lot on her mind. A high school junior with a newfound crush on her best guy friend, Jess is also dealing with her sister Sara’s illness, which seems to be worsening by the day. And then there are the odd things that keep happening around town: Half the population is out sick with a mysterious flu, her two best friends keep pushing her away from her crush and toward another boy, and only Jess seems to hear a mysterious chanting. When Sara is hospitalized, Jess begins to see the cracks in her world more clearly, and once she realizes the truth nothing will ever be the same. Jess is a relatable protagonist whom readers will root for as she forges through Carey’s upside-down world and topsy-turvy plot. As the narrative careens past the twist, Carey’s scrutiny of modern-day life resonates. Friendships, romantic relationships, and familial bonds are all examined via new perspectives as Carey’s thriller not only entertains, it makes one think. Race and skin color aren’t explicitly stated, though one of Jess’s friends “look[s] like Dionne from Clueless.”
VERDICT A fun and thoughtful thriller; this YA novel will please fans of E. Lockhart and Kiera Cass.

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