“Jilly-Bean” by Celia Vogel follows Jillian Crossland’s summer after her senior year of high school. We start out with Jillian making plans for her next year; she will be attending college, looking for an apartment, finding a summer job to pay for college. We then follow her summer as it plays out. There were many things about this book that I really enjoyed.
First, I enjoyed the writing style of “Jilly-Bean.” Passages such as the following, eighty-percent of the way through the book (reading a book on a Kindle means page numbers don’t really exist), which reads, “The sharp streets and lampposts blurred and dissolved at the edges of her vision into a kaleidoscope of colours as her tears fell.” The descriptions were strong and detailed, but didn’t mar the narrative of the story, provided a beautiful backdrop for the story and gave me clear pictures of the action.
I also enjoyed the characterizations. Jillian was a strong character, with clear opinions and emotions. The ‘supporting cast’ was also well developed, providing a meaningful story and backdrop.
Really the only problem I had with this book was a mixing of genres for no discernible purpose. I felt that, instead of being cohesive, the book really consisted of three parts in different genres. The first was a paranormal fiction with just enough skeptics to lead me to expect a discussion within a narrative on the validity of supernatural beliefs. The middle third was a teenage, summer romance, which I thought had the potential to relate to the paranormal theme, but was never actually tied in. The final third of the book felt like an expose of teen depression and suicide.
The transitions between the three parts was deftly done, and never felt stilted, but, after finishing the book, I did not understand the reason for the juxtapositions.
Probably my favorite part of “Jilly-Bean” was Jillian’s dog, Molly, who was so similar to my dog – also called Molly – I felt Celia Vogel had come to my house, watched my dog, and then slightly changed some aspects of the dogs so as to avoid an excess of similarity to true events. Descriptions such as “Then she [Molly] lowered her head again to the floor between her two front paws, pretending to go back to sleep with one eye closed but the other persistently open, alert, following
Jillian as she got ready. The clatter of the leash being taken down from its hook alerted Molly that Jillian was about to take her out. Slowly and with seeming reluctance she got up, stretched one hind leg, then the other, yawned and shuffled to the door.”
One last note – I read “Jilly-Bean” on my HP Touchpad using the Amazon Kindle app. I found this to be an enjoyable and easy experience. The Kindle app was also really excellent for taking notes and highlighting sections, all useful tools when reviewing a book. I would recommend this reading experience.
Overall, I enjoyed “Jilly-Bean” by Celia Vogel. From the beautiful writing and characterizations, to the description of the dog, I had a pleasant experience reading it. I would recommend it to anyone interested in paranormal, teen-romances, or exposes of teen-depression, and anyone else looking for a unique and interesting read.
Altair Books (2012)
Reviewed by Madeleine Sullivan (18) for Reader Views (5/12)