Jeremy's Reviews > Jersey Angel

Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman
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's review

really liked it

Jersey Angel deals openly and shamelessly with sex, lust, and promiscuity, but those things don't have the final say over Bauman's characters - especially her central character, Angel. That is what stands out to me about this book.

Bauman's subtle, yet potent story-telling paints a living imagine of how things in life actually are. Her characters - teenagers, friends, siblings, parents, lovers - all experience the full effects of the human condition, and she presents them to us fearlessly.

Bauman also makes masterful use of her story's three part framework – Summer, Fall, and Winter – creating intuitive links between each season's symbolic qualities and her own characters' struggles. She begins with Summer - the season of life lived to its full - with Angel about to enter her senior year of high school. The context charges Angel with an energy of life she hasn't experienced before, and, by the end of the summer, she's engaging in a steamy, sexual relationship with her best friend Iggy's boyfriend Cork.

That moves us into Fall, and Bauman is keenly aware of the symbolism. An internal struggle takes place in Angel, and she tries to resolve her desire for sex with her deeper desire to love and be loved. Over time she realizes that what she has with Cork isn't love - that he does't care about her in that way - and that he can't satisfy her deeper longing.

The story ends in Winter, and, again, the season's symbolism embodies a deep truth for Bauman's characters. We experience Angel's disappointment at losing a beauty pageant to her best friend Iggy, and the deeper complexity of Angel's simultaneous love for and jealousy of her. We experience Iggy's own sadness as she faces the reality of leaving her friends and family to attend college. And, at the extreme, we experience Sherry's (a mutual friend of theirs) heartbreaking loss over the death of her baby daughter.

At the very end of the book, however, death and loss don't have the final say. While their effects are very real and painful, there's also a first snow coming. This too stands out to me as a deep truth about the human condition: that Winter is both real and unavoidable, but that being covered in freshly fallen snow – in newness, in white – is what Angel, and the rest of us for that matter, all want at our core. Jersey Angel captures this reality masterfully, and rang true with me long after turning its final page.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
February 13, 2012 – Finished Reading
February 18, 2012 – Shelved

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