Janine reacts to the increased media scrutiny surrounding her on the 10th anniversary of the suicide bombing that killed her parents with a series of peculiar behaviors, including a brief stint as a faith healer.
The novel’s most promising storyline involves Janine’s struggles to understand her role as a reluctant public figure. Though many community members are well-wishers, others very openly declare that Janine is wasting her “second chance at a meaningful life” by withdrawing rather than using her fame to champion important causes. Unfortunately, Janine’s attempts to define “important” and to understand why harnessing her fame as a promotional tool feels like exploitation get lost in the multitude of additional issues that are haphazardly squeezed into the novel. Janine’s struggles with her Jewish heritage, faith healing and the family drama that ensues as Janine reads her mother’s last diary obscure potentially interesting themes about privacy and the press. Further complicating the novel is Janine’s self-absorbed storytelling, which leaves little room for readers to understand other characters, whose behaviors often seem conveniently demonized to generate pity for the unlikable Janine (such as when her friends stand by and watch as an angry mob unaccountably begins to throw mud at her).
Sluggish narration and characters’ baffling emotional fluctuations will leave readers unfulfilled in spite of the novel’s interesting premise. (Fiction. 14 & up)