The Nature of Jade / Wild Roses
Author: Deb Caletti
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Publisher for review via YA Books Central
Description from Goodreads:
Get a double dose of realistic romance in this collection of two fan favorites from Deb Caletti.Love may or may not be all you actually need, but it’s easy to feel that it is when you’re wrapped up in one of these two stories from Deb Caletti.
In Wild Roses, Cassie is in love, but she can’t let her stepfather know. Her mom’s husband is a beloved public figure, but a private nightmare whose manic phases and paranoia are getting worse. Cassie begins to fear for the safety of her boyfriend...and herself.
In The Nature of Jade, Jade struggles with Panic Disorder. Her boyfriend is a calming influence…until she learns that he’s hiding a terrible secret. A secret that will force Jade to decide between what is right—and what feels right.
Thoughts on the Omnibus:
Let's just get this out of the way right now: the omnibus title is absurdly cheesy. Okay, I've said it. However, I personally kind of love it, because, hello, Beatles reference. Also, I love the cover because of the red umbrella. Plus, in an omnibus you get two books for ten bucks. Win.
First Sentence: "To say my life changed when my mother married Dino Cavalli (yes, the Dino Cavalli) would be like saying that the tornado changed things for Dorothy."
While the omnibus suggests that the main theme of these two novels is romance, that certainly is not the case here. Yes, Cassie does have a relationship with a cute boy (Ian, a violin student of her step-father), but the book spends much more time on Cassie's relationship with her family, mother, father and step-father. Both of her biological parents love her, but are caught up in their personal issues, the father with getting his ex-wife back and the mother with her sensitive new husband.
Caletti really delves into Dino's descent into madness, considering the relation between creative genius and insanity. Cassie has obviously done a lot of research into this subject since Dino came into her life, and regularly drops in trivia about all of the famous artistic types who have gone off the deep end. I love trivia, so I always looked forward to these bits of knowledge.
Much as I wholeheartedly enjoyed Wild Roses, I do have a couple of concerns. From a technical perspective, Caletti does some changing of tenses that I found quite strange. For the most part, the novel is written in past tense, but Cassie occasionally makes a reflection in the present tense, and a whole chapter towards the end is written in present tense. This may have been an intentional stylistic decision, but I found it quite distracting.
Now, I really love Cassie, but I really have no conception of how she lived before Dino Cavalli came into her life. Her only semblance of a friend in the beginning is a girl who follows her home because of an interest in Dino's music. She essentially has no friends. Since she's not socially awkward or antisocial, the fact that she was apparently friendless but doesn't ever seem bothered by that really seems a bit off to me.
Nevertheless, I have added all of Caletti's other books to Goodreads, because authors who can write MCs I am so entertained by are ones I need to fill my life with.
Favorite Quote: "It is one of those Murphy's Law things that if you have a group project at school, the more important it is to your grade, the more likely you are to get stuck with partners whose safest contribution is to color the map. Even that makes you nervous."
The Nature of Jade
First Sentence: "When you live one and a half blocks away from a zoo like I do, you can hear the baboons screeching after it gets dark."
As much as I liked Wild Roses, I have to say that The Nature of Jade is even more solid as a novel. Like the first, Caletti deals with tough subjects, while keeping the tone light with the delightful voice of the heroine.
Jade has a lot of anxiety, and sees a shrink on a regular basis. She has panic attacks so severe she feels like she's dying. As such, she's a very cautious person, avoiding possibly upsetting situations. This also results in her remaining pretty aloof from people at school, fearing that they'll drive like maniacs if they spend time together or force her to a party where she might be uncomfortable. Despite this, Jade has a really engaging personality, and it's really sad to see how she's locked herself down.
Caletti tackles three big issues in The Nature of Jade. The first is family. Jade's parents have been growing apart, resulting in arguments and the looming possibility of divorce. Jade's mother gets incredibly involved at Jade's school, volunteering for everything and chaperoning dances Jade doesn't even go to. Meanwhile, her father signs his un-athletic son up for every single sport at school, desperate to have a son like himself. Their family dynamics aren't happy, but they're real, full of squabbling and misunderstandings and good intentions gone wrong.
Living near the zoo, Jade has become obsessed with the elephants, and always keeps an elephant cam up on her computer. She spies a young guy and a baby watching the elephants regularly, and begins to go to the zoo physically herself again in hopes of meeting him and learning his story. Her regularity at the zoo gets her a volunteer position working with the elephants. There is so much respect for the animal kingdom in the book, a wonderful understanding that humans are not the only creatures with real, complex emotions.
The romance is touching and strange, the first of its kind I've as yet encountered. Jade does meet the guy, Sebastian, who takes the baby to watch the elephants, and it is his baby. He's only two years older than she is, but his life is so different because of the choices he made. He and Jade develop a sweet, if a bit over-swift bond. Sebastian stands apart from the typical YA hero, and that difference makes him so interesting. Also, he and his whole family are great.
Needless to say, I do not regret having added all of Caletti's books to my to-read list. Her books are fun and hilarious, while also plumbing unique and important subject matter.
Favorite Quote: "'Tess is one to get carried away. She once led this secret uprising to switch the voice boxes of Barbies and G.I. Joes. When they hit the shelves, G.I. Joe said, "Let's go shopping!" and Barbie said, "The enemy must be overtaken."'"