I wish I were thin.
My initial reaction: “Don’t we all?”
This was the kind of first sentences that somehow told readers they’re in for some ordinary story. And technically, Jemima Jones’ story is something ordinary: fat Jemima who’s in love with cute Ben who, in turn, saw her only as a workmate and friend. Then came along Internet-sent guy, Brad, who gave Jemima the courage to confront her largeness. And away went the pounds, together with the insecurities and the solitude.
Fairly real and somehow predictable, especially considering that the settings were California and London–where most of the envious bodies frequented. Except, of course, for unexpected twists that Jane Green had artfully laced in. And that’s what I particularly liked about the story. Finding boyfriends through the Net was not always tackled even in today’s new novels where there’s an abundance of Internet-related stories. Furthermore, I found the idea of flying miles to someone you’d never met a bit unorthodox and very must-see. It was an addition that sprung most of the uncertainties totally evident in the novel. Then things began going rollercoaster-like, turning and churning until you realized the story was moving to a place you didn’t expect it to go.
I especially admired Jane Green’s dynamism, which was evident in the shifts from one voice to another. Green wrote true to the amount of characters in her story. On one side, there was Jemima telling her story. And then suddenly, there was Jane Green telling Jemima’s story as well as Ben’s and Brad’s. There was also the feeling of being talked to that one could get from the novel. It was as if (as a reader, this was how I felt) you could be Jemima and an outsider all at the same time.
And while moving along and around the story, one could get as much of the harshness of the entire reality Jemima’s story so satirically represents. But the brashness was braided in with simple humor and a teen-like romantic feeling. In Filipino, the term was “kilig”. This was where Jemima and Ben’s pairing fell in. Theirs was a relationship that practically started from nothing but a one-sided fantasy. Eventually, after some soul-baring moments with each other and meeting again in another continent, they realized how friendship–and distance–could spark something else.
The added characters were also very appropriate in the overall path of the story. It was hard to miss the irony of Jemima being surrounded with ideally-bodied women whilst she was flabby and with thigh-rich females when she became slim. For me, it seemed as if Jane Green wanted that irony to prove how nobody gets satisfied and how being with a wonderful body doesn’t necessarily spells happiness. Again, reality.
On the whole, I loved Jemima’s story because it was straightforward and ultimately confident. Against all sizes.