The Jerk Magnet by Melody Carlson
Reviewed by: Jennifer S. Roman
Genre: Young Adult, Christian,
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication Date: January 1, 2012
Chelsea Martin, shy bookish junior in high school, gets the shock of her life when her father tells her that he not only is engaged to be remarried, but also that his job is transferring him to San José. All Chelsea wants is for things to stay the same. While not overly popular, Chelsea is comfortable with her life. Kate, Chelsea’s soon-to-be stepmother, takes an interest in Chelsea and offers to give her some fashion advice and tips on being more confident. At first Chelsea resists, but soon she sees that boys give her more than a passing glance after she tries some of Kate’s suggestions. Before long, however, Chelsea realizes that the people giving her all this attention are not the nicest people; most, in fact, are jerks. With the help of her new friend Janelle, Chelsea comes up with a social experiment to show that we all tend to judge by looks rather than personality.
This is the first in the Life at Kingston High series, in which Melody Carson focuses on a different teen and his or her personal struggles in each book. She starts with Chelsea and attempts to show how fickle and shallow people can be. She easily demonstrates the lesson that Chelsea learns: sometimes we are better off in our own skin instead of trying to be someone else. Similar to my generation’s Sweet Valley High series by Francine Pascal, Carson uses realistic, current situations and applies a good Christian lesson to them while still entertaining. The genre is nothing new, but Carson manages to find a way to engage adult readers as well as teens without being preachy. Based on my experience with The Jerk Magnet, the other books in this series should be just as enjoyable and helpful.
Rated PG 13: There are some mature themes, but this book should be suitable for teens and adults.