Thursday, June 21, 2012

Review: Jersey Tomatoes are the Best

Jersey Tomatoes are the Best

Author: Maria Padian
Pages: 352
Publisher: Knopf
Source: Library
Synopsis: This is a hilarious and heartbreaking story of two teen girls and the summer when everything changes for them. Both Henry and Eva are New Jersey natives and excellent athletes: Henry's a master on the tennis court and Eva is a graceful ballerina. When opportunity knocks for both of them the summer before their junior year in high school they throw open the door: Henry sees freedom from her overbearing father and a chance to build her talents on the court. Eva sees the chance to be the best as well as even more pressure to be graceful, lighter, more perfect on the dance floor. 

Soon, Eva's obsession with physical perfection leads her down the path to anorexia, and her health issues overwhelm everything else. But through it all these two best friends know that Jersey Tomatoes are the Best, and nothing will come between them no matter the distance.

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Jersey Tomatoes are the Best deserves way more recognition than it has been receiving. It's a great story with two real girls who make strong choices.

Eva and Henry are both incredibly talented. Eva's a ballerina and Henry is a tennis player. They are both on the path to success which is actually pretty hard. They both have overbearing parents but they also have each other and are best friends. That kind of friendship is so sweet. It's refreshing to read of friends who are actually friends and not frenemies, who support each other and are equal. The story would have been good with only one of the girls as a character but with both it was fantastic.

I loved reading this book. I'm an (ignorant) Canadian so all I know about New Jersey is that it's near New York and there's Jersey Shore. So reading about all the Jersey jokes fascinated me. Jersey Tomatoes are the Best had this readability thing going for it too. The second I started the book I was hooked to the story. I wanted to know the ending, I was curious about the characters so much so that I didn't feel like I was reading a book as much I was seeing the story happen in my head. I LOVE when that happens.

Now a bit about the characters... Eva is a perfectionist. She has a thing for lines and is so sweet. Something does happen to her but I thought there were many hints and what happened happened in a way that was believable and continued the story. I do like that the story was more about Eva than what happened to her. Eva is funny, sweet, and a loyal friend though she does have a dark streak.

Henry is a character that radiates strength. She's deadly on the tennis court and like Eva, she has some issues but she's so real and teenage like about them that you can't help but be on her side. She's so relatable as she manages her life and makes strong decisions that prove the strength of her character. I really loved Henry.

What Jersey Tomatoes are the Best has going for it is the fact that there is not one sole problem and focus in the novel. There are numerous problems and events so the book reads truly like life with no clear good choices.

This is a contemporary read that should not be missed. It's not a super emotional read or full of light nothingness but an enjoyable genuinely good read. 4.5 stars,

**** & 1/2 *

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