The Nature of Jade

Deb Caletti, Author . S&S $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4169-1005-3

When 17-year-old Jade sees a curly-haired boy on a zoo Web camera—a boy with a baby on his back—she gets that "little feeling of knowing, this fuzzy, gnawing sense that someone will become a major something in your life." After she volunteers to work with the elephants, she meets and falls in love with Sebastian, and is quickly drawn into his complicated life—including his dangerous secret. Jade's life has its own complexities, such as a "missing in action" father, and a mother who is overly involved in Jade's high school. Caletti's (Wild Roses ) multilayered novel interweaves many plot points; the fascinating anecdotes about animal behavior that begin each chapter ground the story, as does the guidance of Jade's gentle counselor. Some characters do not fully come alive, such as the brokenhearted elephant keeper Damian, who mourns the pachyderm he left behind in India. (Readers will likely take to Damian regardless, and appreciate his part in teaching Jade that she is like her name, "One of the strongest materials. Stronger than steel.") The author offers a rather unflinching look at realistically complicated lives; readers will root for Jade as she begins to learn that she can't "put things into separate compartments: right, wrong, good, bad"—especially when it comes to the people she loves. Ages 12-up. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 02/12/2007
Release date: 02/01/2007
Genre: Children's
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