Melissa's Reviews > What a Boy Needs

What a Boy Needs by Nyrae Dawn
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's review
Jun 11, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012-reads
Read from June 11 to 12, 2012

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Another sweet book by Nyrae Dawn. I just have to say right off the bat -- Nyrae can sure nail the teenage boy voice with her narrators. In What a Boy Needs Jaden gets to be the star as the first person narrator of the story, and he is a fun person to get to know in this story. And by fun I guess I really mean fascinating. Jaden is a boy who is the product of a completely sucky home environment. Is he abused? Not physically. But the mental abuse thrown at him daily by his "father" is horrific. No child (even if he is now an 18 year old child) should have to endure the words thrown at him by this man. Jaden is constantly told that he is worthless and unwanted, and after years of hearing this over and over again Jaden is pretty sure that this is true.

Jaden is fascinating to me because he has this crazy mix of over-the-top cockiness and surety mixed with a severe lack of self esteem. This boy who can walk into a room like he owns the place, do outrageous things, and constantly make comments about his own awesomeness is secretly battling feelings of insecurity. He doesn't feel as if he is good enough for even his own friends who have been rocks to him his entire life. Chalk that up to the man Jaden believed was his father. He tells Jaden that he is only a mooch and a burden to his friends, and Jaden believes him. Why is it that we are so quick to believe the people who care least about us in this world and not listen to the people who love us most? I think that the issues brought up with Jaden's life in this book are issues that young people face all the time in this world. And that's why I enjoyed seeing how Jaden was going to work through all of this. Jaden hides his insecurity through his cocky attitude with others, but his friends are able to see the vulnerable parts of him. However, Jaden won't let them in to really see how hurt and ashamed he is. He doesn't want them to know -- even though they already do. Nyrae does an amazing job of painting the two parts of Jaden's personality, the public and the private sides. I loved that about this book.

This book is not just about Jaden. It is about his relationship with Priscilla as well. Priscilla seems to have a life that is a polar opposite of his. Her parents are wealthy and successful, and they give her whatever she wants. That is how it appears to Jaden at least. In reality Priscilla's parents mask their neglect with displays meant for others, not for Priscilla, so she feels almost as unwanted and unloved as Jaden does. But neither of them can realize this until one of them opens up to the other. So much of this book was about Jaden hiding his true feelings, in the process creating a rift in his friendship with Pris that gets deeper and deeper. She likes him -- a lot, and he likes her -- a lot. But Jaden will not allow himself to form any sort of romantic attachment to her because he believes that she is too good for him. As he tries to push her away for her own good he ends up hurting her over and over. Seeing the two of them work through the issues of communication that come because of Jaden's insecurity was a great part of this book.

What I absolutely loved the most -- Jaden's internal thoughts as he tried to figure out Priscilla. I have five brothers, so I am very familiar with how boys work, and I have to say, this portrayal of Jaden and his confusion about all things girly was spot on. I could see any one of my brothers thinking the exact same things. Why do girls do the things they do when dealing with boys? It makes sense to girls, but it is a mystery to boys. I could read about Priscilla's actions and know exactly why she was doing what she was doing, but Jaden was at a total loss. Sometimes when I'm reading a book this can be frustrating to read because it drives me crazy when the two love interests in a book don't communicate. But in this case it was done perfectly. Sometimes it was absolutely hilarious to see Jaden try to figure things out. Other times it could be touching as I saw Jaden's eyes really opening and seeing just who Priscilla was and what she meant to him. Some of my favorite scenes were those when Jaden pushed aside all of his overthinking and allowed himself to just be there for Pris and comfort her and talk to her. Loved those scenes!

I do have one small complaint (and it's small), but I felt as if the ending of the book was rushed a bit. Things played out wonderfully for everyone, so I loved that. But I really wanted to hear more about things with Jaden's family and Priscilla's family. I don't think that this story deserved tons of extra time -- I mean, the two families really were atrocious in their own special way. But I just felt like I wanted more closure with everything. I would have especially loved to read more about Jaden's introduction to his real father. But, like I say, it was a small complaint, and I still really enjoyed the story without any expansion.

So overall I really enjoyed this second book about this group of four friends as they head off into their futures. It is a story of the power of friendship and love to overcome the junk thrown at us in life. And it is an amazing story of getting inside the head of a troubled boy and watching him find exactly what he needs. Four stars!
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message 1: by Fred (new) - added it

Fred Wow, great review, thanks!

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