Title: The Nature of Jade
Author: Deb Caletti
Published in: 2007
Genres: realistic fiction, contemporary, romance, mental illness
“I am not my illness. “Girl with Anxiety,” “Trauma of the Week” — no. I hate stuff like that. Everyone, everyone has their issue. But the one thing my illness did make me realize is how necessary it is to ignore the dangers of living in order to live. And how much trouble you can get into if you can’t.
Jade DeLuna is too young to die. She knows this, and yet she can’t quite believe it, especially when the terrifying thoughts, loss of breath, and dizzy feelings come. Since being diagnosed with Panic Disorder, she’s trying her best to stay calm, and visiting the elephants at the nearby zoo seems to help. That’s why Jade keeps the live zoo webcam on in her room, and that’s where she first sees the boy in the red jacket. A boy who stops to watch the elephants. A boy carrying a baby.
His name is Sebastian, and he is raising his son alone. Jade is drawn into Sebastian’s cozy life with his son and his activist grandmother on their Seattle houseboat, and before she knows it, she’s in love. With this boy who has lived through harder times than anyone she knows. This boy with a past.
Jade knows the situation is beyond complicated, but she hasn’t felt this safe in a long time. She owes it all to Sebastian, her boy with the great heart. Her boy who is hiding a terrible secret. A secret that will force Jade to decide between what is right, and what feels right.
Master storyteller Deb Caletti has once again created characters so real, you will be breathless with anticipation as their riveting story unfolds.”
– from Goodreads
Seventeen year old Jade was diagnosed with Panic Disorder a few years ago. She struggles with panic attacks and anxiety which is why she sees her psychologist, Abe, weekly. She’s very focused on her studies and takes several AP classes at her high school. When she’s at home, she keeps the zoo’s webcam of the elephant enclosure pulled up on her computer and watches the elephants. One day, she sees a boy in a red jacket carrying a baby. Immediately she gets the feeling that he’s going to be one of those people who play a big part in her life. But after a while, she doesn’t see him again. Later on, she decides to get a job as a volunteer at the zoo, helping to take care of the elephants. Some time after, she meets the boy in the red jacket while she’s taking care of the elephants. His name is Sebastian and the baby he was carrying is his. He’s raising his son on his own with help from his grandmother who he lives with in a small houseboat. Jade soon begins to spend much of her time at his house with him and his grandmother, becoming part of their life. When Jade learns Sebastian’s secret, she must decide what to do.
A major focus throughout the whole book was Jade’s fascination with the elephants at the nearby zoo. Especially after she started volunteering at the zoo, the elephants were frequently talked about. I’m not really into elephants or books about animals, so after a while I became bored with these parts and felt that it spent too much time and put too much emphasis on them.
The majority of the rest of the book was focused on Jade’s relationship with Sebastian, who Jade had quickly become involved with soon after meeting him in real life.
Another, smaller, focus of the book was Jade’s family life. She’s shown to be close and very caring towards her younger brother, Oliver. In one scene, she helps him to get out of sports practice, which he hates, but is forced to participate in due to their father’s love for sports. Her father’s often either at work or when he is home, downstairs in the basement working on his train model. Jade’s mother and father also frequently argue and separate later on.
I would’ve liked for the book to focus more on Jade’s anxiety. Her anxiety disorder wasn’t focused on too much and I didn’t feel what was shown to be very realistic. There were only a handful of her therapy sessions, which I wish there were more of. During much of the book, I was able to forget she had an anxiety disorder until I was reminded of it when she nearly had a panic attack. I thought that for a book about someone with an anxiety disorder, it didn’t focus on that enough.
The Nature of Jade reminded me a little of The Boyfriend List series by E. Lockhart that I read last year. Both books were about teen girls who lived in Seattle, worked at a zoo, and had panic attacks.
I was hoping I was going to really like this book, especially since the main character had an anxiety disorder. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up enjoying it as much as I thought I would, which was disappointing.
Overall, I thought The Nature of Jade was an okay read.
Rating: 3/5 Stars