Title: The Nature of Jade
Author: Deb Caletti
Published: February 2007 by Simon & Schuster
My Rating: 4 stars
Tags: YA | Romance | Realistic
Includes: Sensuality, Profanity
First Lines: 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. It can scare the crap out of you when you're not used to it, as I found out one night right after we moved in.
Jade DeLuna, a senior in high school, is struggling with her family relationships, along with her Panic Disorder. After figuring out that the elephants at the zoo seem to keep her calm, Jade watches the zoo's live webcam on her computer daily. It's there that she first sees the cute boy in the red jacket with a baby - and not just once because soon he's visiting the elephants every day. When the two finally meet, they quickly hit it off and begin spending time with each other frequently. Sebastian is unlike any other guy Jade has ever met, but is he too good to be true? After all, everyone has their secrets...
Right from the start, I felt very connected to Jade, which is an important factor in a book for me. Her character was so real and easy to relate to; sometimes she would say or think things that I never thought anyone else had thought of before. From reading the book's summary, I was imagining the main character to be extremely paranoid and have anxiety about everything (since Jade is diagnosed with Panic Disorder), however this played a very, very small role in the story. In fact, there are only one or two times that I remember her even having a panic attack. So just be aware that the whole Panic Disorder concept is not a big portion in the novel.
I really wish there were more Sebastian's in the world. I liked him from the beginning and he had such a sweet and caring personality. His maturity for being 20 was believable and I liked how he could be sophisticated but also goofy. He had his flaws - every character in the book did - so I liked how he was actually human rather than perfect (unlike many of the guys in YA fiction). I thought the relationship between Jade and Sebastian was sweet and it took up just enough part of the story, rather than having the whole book center on them. The other half of the storyline focused on Jade and her family. Her mother is trying to live Jade's life, her father is slowly becoming distant, and her younger brother Oliver is being forced to play sports he hates. I grew to love Oliver and thought he was just plain adorable.
At the beginning of each chapter, the author includes short excerpts from "The Fundamentals of Animal Behavior" about how certain animals show human traits. These were so interesting and really leave something for the reader to think about. My biggest complaint is the vague ending that kind of drops off and leaves for the reader's own interpretation. It wasn't solid, which I prefer. However, this was such an enjoyable read with a great set of characters. It really put me in the mood to take a visit to the zoo and spend an afternoon watching the elephants. Who knows, maybe I'll meet my very own Sebastian there?!
From page 126
I sprawl on my bed and look through my lava-lamp frame, at the stars glittering, at the wisp of a cloud drawing across the sky like the tip of a paintbrush. I hold up the moments with Sebastian, gaze at them again with a gentle eye, with careful hope. I do the necessary work of falling in love, that time spent alone with your imagination. I close my eyes, remember the smell of mint, the baby's cheek against his back, his smile, not quite perfect.
Cover Thoughts: It's alright I guess.. not too memorable though.