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‘Jemima J.’ not about waffles

Meet Jemima Jones. You’ve probably seen her a million times on the street before. She’s overweight, withdrawn and has the confidence of a carrot, however, author Jane Green’s “Jemima J.” is special. She’s a modern-day Cinderella, an ugly duckling-turned swan, and her story will enthrall readers from beginning to end.

Poor Jemima. She’s 100 pounds overweight and knows her size is holding her back. Her boss at the Kilburn Herald won’t promote her, and Ben, the deputy news editor whose looks are comparable to Prince Charming, only thinks of her as a friend. On top of all this, her two roommates bare a striking resemblance to Cinderella’s evil step sisters, except they look like they’ve stepped from the pages of Cosmopolitan with their size zero figures, long shiny hair and high cheek bones. Yes, it’s safe to say Jemima’s life is going nowhere in a hurry.

So, as many have done and will continue to do, she turns to the Internet, where she meets Brad, an L.A. hunk who runs his own gym. Since Jemima lives in England, she believes it’s safe to lie to him about her looks (come on, you know you’ve done it too), but when he invites her to visit L.A., Jemima realizes that it’s time to transform herself into the woman she’s always dreamed of being.

What begins as a hilarious and awkward first trip to the gym soon becomes an obsession with fitness. Jemima starts dieting and exercising like a maniac to turn herself into a 121-pound, stunning beauty. When she’s finally satisfied with her new look she goes to L.A. to visit Brad, who turns out to be everything he promised. On the surface, Brad is the man of Jemima’s dreams, but is he really what she’s looking for? And what about Ben? He’s become an overnight success as a broadcast journalist, but he hasn’t seen Jemima since her transformation. What will he say when he sees the new Jemima?

This book may sound like your everyday cliché novel an about insecure, single woman looking for love, but this one is exceptional. It’s the kind of book easily devoured in a matter of hours.

Although Green is a fairly new writer, she has already developed a distinctive style in which she brings her readers inside the story, directly addressing them as a friend and fellow spectator of Jemima’s life. In addition, she jumps into the heads of even minor characters, allowing readers to see exactly what everyone is thinking. Ever wonder what the random girl behind the cashier’s counter is thinking? Now you’ll know.

Truth be told, there’s a little Jemima Jones in all of us, which is perhaps what makes this character so easy to identify with. Readers will blush when Jemima is embarrassed (which is often) and will cry when her heart is broken. She’s the type of person who will easily get inside a reader’s head, because let’s face it, she’s always been there. She’s that little bit of doubt felt when walking into a room and seeing all eyes on you. She’s that mental kick you give yourself when you say something stupid in front of a crowd of people. She’s the insecure loser, within all of us — which is why you’ll find yourself cheering for her every step of the way. “Jemima J.” will supply your inner dork with a generous dose of wit, humor and empathy.

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