Nature of Jade
by Deb Caletti
YP FIC CALETTI
Jade has anxiety problems. On top of that, her friends are getting more extreme...more boy crazy, more grade conscious, more Christian. Her mother is trying to live her life for her, going to dances as a chaperone even when Jade herself doesn't go. Talking to Abe, her psychologist helps, and he challenges her to look beyond the obvious things in her life. Then one evening, through the zoo's online Elephant Cam she spots a boy standing in the elephant viewing area. He has a small baby with him, and she wonders what the connection is. Is the boy the baby's father, brother, uncle? Her curiosity peaked, Jade signs on to volunteer in the zoo's elephant exhibit. She bonds with the new baby elephant and its mother, and worries about an older female elephant that has seen many hard times. As the people in Jade's life begin to spiral more and more out of control, Jade finds an inner strength.
Jade makes for an interesting character. Her anxiety problems seem real, but since she has mostly gained control of them, those issues are not melodramatic and don't take over the plot. The boy's problems however are pretty massive, more than any of them seem to acknowledge. I'd have liked to see more resolution there. Each chapter opens with notes from a book on animal behavior--an author note about that would have been interesting. All in all though, Jade was fun to read about, and I find myself really interested in elephants now!