I knew fairly little about this book before starting. I was surprised to find how much of it I related to. It’s the story of Jessie. She and her father move from Chicago to Southern California just as she’s starting her junior year of high school. Not too long before this move, they’ve lost her mother to cancer, and now her father’s moving them across the country to live with his new wife, and her son. Their new home is grand and pristine. She feels unwelcome among the richness, and dramatically out of place at her new private school where money rules. The only welcome she receives comes via email from “Somebody Nobody;” an anonymous classmate of Jessie’s who volunteers his knowledge of all things Wood Valley High School.
Granted I didn’t move to Southern California after such a loss as Jessie experienced, but I did move from Chicago to Southern California as I started my junior year of high school. And formerly a student of public schools, I started at a private school in California where image and brands seemed king. Although unlike Jessie there was no new family, and no secret e-admirer. Unfortunately (the admirer part, not the new family). But so many of her experiences with that move felt very familiar. I found it very easy to fall into Jessie’s world, and Buxbaum’s writing made it even easier.
“Perfect days are for people with small, realizable dreams. Or maybe for all of us, they just happen in retrospect; they’re only now perfect because they contain something irrevocably and irretrievably lost.”
It was authentic, fast-paced, and kept you guessing just enough to rush to the end and Jessie’s reveal of SN (aka Somebody Nobody). Buxbaum balanced the high school politics with the power of young friendships, and the gravity of the loss of family. The story was equal parts fun and sincere. It felt like reading an early episode of The OC or Dawson’s Creek with all its gloriously indulgent teenage nostalgia.
So, in conclusion, if you’re looking for an entertaining, thoughtful, quick read with all the oh so sweet high school cliches, this is exactly what you should put on your reading list!