Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti

Published: February 27, 2007 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

I am not my illness. "Girl with Anxiety," "Trauma of the Week" -- no. I hate stuff like that. Everyone, everyone has their issue. But the one thing my illness did make me realize is how necessary it is to ignore the dangers of living in order to live. And how much trouble you can get into if you can't.
Jade DeLuna is too young to die. She knows this, and yet she can't quite believe it, especially when the terrifying thoughts, loss of breath, and dizzy feelings come. Since being diagnosed with Panic Disorder, she's trying her best to stay calm, and visiting the elephants at the nearby zoo seems to help. That's why Jade keeps the live zoo webcam on in her room, and that's where she first sees the boy in the red jacket. A boy who stops to watch the elephants. A boy carrying a baby.
His name is Sebastian, and he is raising his son alone. Jade is drawn into Sebastian's cozy life with his son and his activist grandmother on their Seattle houseboat, and before she knows it, she's in love. With this boy who has lived through harder times than anyone she knows. This boy with a past.
Jade knows the situation is beyond complicated, but she hasn't felt this safe in a long time. She owes it all to Sebastian, her boy with the great heart. Her boy who is hiding a terrible secret. A secret that will force Jade to decide between what is right, and what feels right.
Master storyteller Deb Caletti has once again created characters so real, you will be breathless with anticipation as their riveting story unfolds.


Panic Disorder and elephants. Jade DeLuna has different techniques to staying calm when she feels an attack coming on. Counting syllables with her fingers till she finally stops at her pinky, thinking of her dream setting, the desert; and even thinking about elephants are just a few. Watching the elephants through her live feed on her computer, Jade finds something different about one boy--man, actually--in a red jacket. This man seems different from all the visitors that just pass through; he also has a baby attached to his back. After failed attemps to come in contact with him, Jade cannot get over him. She must put a name to that face. Continuing on with her overachieving routine and fascination of elephants--beside the fact that she was asked--she volunteers to work with the elephants. Distancing in the household causes Jade to retreat with her "friends" at the zoo even more than usual. After a couple of months, 'red-jacket boy' shows up again, and Jade seems to believe that this may be a good omen; and for a time it is. Only Sebastian has a secret, a secret that if spread around would make him disappear. Can he trust Jade to keep his secret safe? Or will the inevitable catch up to Sebastian, resulting in another retreat?

The Nature of Jade is a whole made up of little things in Jade's life; everything that she notices, makes memories of, has an impact on her. The love of her elephants, her brother; the lava lamp type glass in her bedroom; her religious candles; and her overachieving tendencies. All of them have the calming influence in Jade, an insparation to strive through the worst of times. The qualities of her mentality are so relatable and understandable that I wonder if those are the worries that young adults think about. Written in the common teenage-angst language, you can tell that Caletti has a way with words. Recommended to all YA's out there that are paranoid but just need a push to get through the day.

Grade: B+