Top positive review
Don't give up on this book
Reviewed in the United States on July 12, 2011
If you are considering this for your first Deb Caletti book, I just want to encourage you to avoid it until you know what a great author she really is. My recommendation is to read "Stay" first. I'm not saying The Nature of Jade isn't a good book, because it was, but the first half of it is so uneventful you start to wonder if the whole book is just going to be you, the reader, being spoonfed Jade's thoughts. Her mind works in an interesting way, and she's a great character with her own little quirks and everything, but it just feels like you're waiting for something to HAPPEN. The comparisons she draws between animals and humans are fresh and deep, and it's one of the only reasons I didn't put this book down after the first 50 pages passed and she still hadn't met the boy in the red jacket.
But alas, she does meet the boy in the red jacket. Things start to pick up, and eventually you (well, I) end up reading through it so easily you barely remember how long it took to get going. While I didn't particularly care about, or even LIKE, most of the supporting characters, like Jade's friends and parents, Sebastian, Bo and Tess are enough to make you fall in love with this book. You understand Jade's connection with them, her love for their family, and why she'd be willing to take risks for them that her anxiety has kept her from even considering before. Jade and Sebastian are what each other needs: Jade, someone who can see past Sebastian's personal dramas to accept him because of his heart and his little family; and Sebastian, someone who brings lightness to Jade's life and makes her forget about her illness. They see in each other something that most people couldn't-- that they are not their circumstances. In addition to their relationship being so genuine and lighthearted in spite of everything, Jade herself is a very real character. Deb Caletti has written Jade's thoughts in a way that made me think, "I totally know what she's talking about!" Some of the things Jade thinks about, I have noticed before or would describe the exact same way. And I'm nothing like her, apart from the bits of cynicism.
The whole time, Jade makes these comparisons with the elephants she works with, and the lines between human and animal are blurred. Jade's parents sometimes act more like animals than the elephants, and the elephants act more like humans. I will admit I was thrown off sometimes by the long tangents about the animals, and sometimes I was tempted to skim over the parts where Jade was with her friends or her family, because they just seemed so insignificant. It does all come together though.
This is one of those books that are hard to define in terms of demographic. I have no idea what group of people to recommend it to, but I do recommend it. I guess if you don't get easily distracted, or have a tendency to give up on books if they don't pick up right away, or have some kind of aversion to romance. 3.5/5