Jermaine is old enough to know better.
She has a video camera, and she’s decided that it will carve her path to fame. She plans to tape all the foibles of her typical middle-class family. She quickly realizes that those ups and downs of family life aren’t sufficiently compelling, so she stages more exciting situations. She deliberately upsets a pitcher of ice water that lands in her mother’s lap one winter evening, a freezing cold mess. She bribes her older sister to give her best friend a “makeover”—with pinking shears and Scare-Hair—leading to another highly photogenic calamity. Next she brings home the class pet, a tarantula, and turns it loose in the presence of her spider-phobic mother. Eleven-year-old Jermaine regrets these manufactured mishaps, but not enough to keep her from staging another in the quest for the television fame that surely awaits her. Jermaine’s pie-in-the-face comedy teeters on the brink of mean-spiritedness, saved only by her eventual, albeit late, recognition of the pain she’s inflicted. Surrounded by a cast of nearly normal folks, lightly sketched but believably depicted, and narrating in the present tense, Jermaine neatly captures her living-in-the-moment, no-holds-barred attitude.
This debut novel offers an amusing lesson on the downside of reality television, one that readers will catch on to far sooner than the misguided protagonist. (Fiction. 9-12)