Published By: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: July 7, 2015
Page Count: 304
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary
Jesse's Girl takes Hundred Oaks in a slightly different direction. There is no major sports connection with this one. Instead, the novel is steeped in music.
Maya Henry is a little edgy for the small town of Franklin, Tennessee. She doesn't fit in to any high school mold and sometimes she has trouble finding common ground in her family. She loves motorcycles, fast cars, and music. She feels the notes thrumming through her veins 24/7 and she wants nothing more than to make a career out of her passion. Maya has some amazing guitar skills, but she lacks confidence. She never wants to do a solo, but rather she is content to have the spotlight shine on her bandmates, but everything changes when she has the opportunity to shadow Jesse Scott, country music's hottest chart topper. Maya is hoping to learn more about music and the industry during her time with the superstar, but she soon learns that Jesse is far from an open book.
The first time Maya and Jesse meet is far from love at first sight. Jesse assumes that Maya is using the experience to land a record deal and increase her clout by being seen with him. On the other hand, Maya thinks Jesse is an arrogant jerk who is not worth her time. There is a slight Pride and Prejudice element to their first meeting as they both makes assumptions about the other and it takes time to break those barriers down. Like with P&P, they both soon realize the error of their ways and begin to form a friendship.
The first half of the novel focuses on the shadow day. Jesse and Maya take a page out of Ferris Bueller's book and go rogue. They don't follow any of the predetermined schedule for the day, but rather they choose to experience Nashville and each other's company on their own terms. This was probably my favorite part of the novel as I envied the fun experiences. It was also nice to see the two of them become friends in an authentic way. These sorts of experiences can't help but build a bond between two people.
The second half of the novel focuses on the ramifications of that amazing day - both positive and negative. The road is not an easy one for Maya or Jesse, but in the end the journey is important. I adored these two and they did inch their way up the Hundred Oaks favorite list, but they were not able to unseat my top favorites Jordan and Sam from Catching Jordan. Maya is Sam's younger sister so there are plenty of Jordan and Sam moments in this one. I loved seeing my favorites as adults.
As always, Kenneally also touches on some difficult topics. The main thread in that vein for me this time was the notion of family support. While Maya has it in spades, Jesse's own family, for a variety of reasons, is largely absent. Fame often comes at a price and it broke my heart to see Jesse so alone.
This series is truly something special. I love how Kenneally allows a new couple to shine in each novel while still allowing old favorites to play minor roles. I truly feel like a part of the Hundred Oaks community every time I pick up a Kenneally novel; I love losing myself in this town and these characters. Seriously, if you haven't visited Franklin and Hundred Oaks High, it's time to take the plunge.
One Last Gripe: Jesse's attitude irked me at first, but as the story unfolded I began to understand why he acted that way.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved watching Maya gain confidence and attempt to tackle the music world on her own.
First Sentence: Backstage, there's so much security, you'd think it was the White House.
Favorite Character: Maya
Least Favorite Character: Nate
Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya Henry said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she’d get to shadow *the* Jesse Scott, Nashville’s teen idol.
But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He’s as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he’s accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya’s lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. Not to mention that Jesse’s pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya’s playing back up to other people’s dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart—and go solo?