Julie's Reviews > In Zanesville

In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard
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's review
Jun 10, 2011

it was amazing
Read from June 01 to 10, 2011

To be honest, I have no recollection of where I heard about this book or why I decided to read it -- but I am glad I did. It is a story of teenage angst, of a girl and her childhood best friend trying to navigate the surreal landscape of adolescence. From babysitting together for a strange family (and being fired after their pyro-maniac son sets fire to the house), to spending the night together (sort of still under parental supervision, but with a perceived sense of freedom in the family camper), to dealing with the faults of her parents, to popularity and boys and clothes and siblings and appearances -- Beard brings it all back to life. Beard must have been taking notes during this period of her own life, because I don't think I could recreate all of these emotions and layers of complexity that a teenager feels her life is all about. I must say that in many parts, I more identified with the "best friend" (Flea), but I did get some great insight into "Jo", who I never understood before. The feeling of something being different after a somewhat non-event (in Flea's eyes, anyway), and no one is quite able to put their finger on what that thing was, and how that thing was irreversible with apologies or promises or even actions -- I soooo remember that. I just could never have captured the experience the way Beard does. As another reviewer noted, In Zanesville will return you to the teenage feelings of general discomfort, horror and humor. Fantastic. A favorite sentence that resonated for me? "I'd like to be the kind of person who can do something weird and not become weird because of it, but that's out of reach for me -- I am what I do at this point, and if I do this I'm done for." Another reviewer complained that a fourteen year old would never be this articulate, but I don't feel like she REALLY had this great insight consciously; it was almost a subconscious, or even "adult" Jo telling the story. Read it!

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