Book Review: Finding Jennifer Jones (Anne Cassidy)
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Release Date: February 6th 2014
Summary (from Goodreads):
Kate Rickman seems just like any other nineteen-year-old girl. She goes to university, she dates nice, normal boys and she works in her local tourist office at the weekend. But Kate’s not really normal at all. ‘Kate’ is in fact a carefully constructed facade for a girl called Jennifer Jones – and it’s a facade that’s crumbling fast. Jennifer has spent the last nine years frantically trying to escape from her horrifying past. Increasingly desperate, Jennifer decides to do something drastic. She contacts the only other girl who might understand what she’s dealing with, breaking every rule of her parole along the way. Lucy Bussell is the last person Jennifer expects any sympathy from, but she’s also the last person she has left.
I was super excited when I first heard about this sequel to the wonderful Looking for JJ, which was a favourite book of mine as a teen. However, when I thought about it a bit more, the doubts started creeping in. Looking for JJ was an amazing stand alone book in my head for ten years and I’d never really thought it needed a sequel. What if the new book was surplus and it tainted the original for me?
Luckily, this wasn’t the case. Finding Jennifer Jones had plenty of new and interesting material to cover, both in Jennifer’s past and her present.
When we last left Jennifer Jones, she was starting a new life as Kate Rickman. We join her a couple of years later to find out how her life is progressing now. She’s changed from when she was shy, quiet Alice. This grown up version gets drunk and goes back to houses with random guys and skips out on her probation appointments. She’s tired of a life of being checked up on and feeling like she’s always looking over her shoulder. And when a young girl is murdered in the area and can be linked to her, things only get worse.
I liked this grown up Jennifer, though I did question some of the choices that she made. It’s such an impossible situation for her though: yes, she’s done her time and has technically been released to live her life, but she still did a terrible wrong and has to report in to various people. While she still feels guilty about what she did, she wants to be left alone to live in peace. But she also questions if she deserves that. It’s a really complex situation, and I couldn’t really decide my view on it. While I always feel on her side, as a protagonist I’m fond of, it doesn’t erase the fact that she took the life of a child.
There’s a lot more revealed about Jennifer’s life after the act she committed. I’d been curious about what went on afterwards, and it was great to read more about the trial and her life in a secure unit. We also see some familiar faces and find out about the wider effects of her act, as it changed the lives of more than just her and Michelle’s parents.
This was another fascinating book and I’m so glad I read it. It’s great to revisit a character that I loved so long ago, and I hope the sequel will encourage a new generation of teens to read the original too.