Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Review: "Jessica Z" by Shawn Klomparens

Jessica Zorich is meandering through life. She has a job that she's good at, but not passionate about. She's in a strange relationship with her upstairs neighbor, but it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. The world around her is both frightening and dangerous- it's post 9-11 and buses are frequently being blown up by suicide bombers. When she meets Josh, an intense and brilliant artist, at a party, she's swept into an overwhelming relationship with him. He's passionate, he's sexual, he's politically minded, and he wants her. Jessica can't help but be flattered, especially when he asks her to be his muse for an upcoming project.

When something both confusing and devastating occurs, life as Jessica knows it is blown to pieces, and what remains are the truths that were hidden there all along.

It always amazes me when a man can truly get into the head of a woman, and Shawn Klomparens does an excellent job of this with Jessica Z. Jessica would do something and I would be nodding my head in agreement with what she did, or with how she felt, and it surprised me how Klomparens was so in tune with the female mind. For this reason alone I would recommend it, but he also managed to create multi-faceted characters who were more than what they seemed at first glance. A particularly good example of this would be Josh, the brooding artist. In the first part of the book we meet one part of his personality, and in the second half we discover the other part, completely different from the first. At times it was difficult to associate the first Josh with the second Josh, because they were so entirely different, yet as a character he remained entirely believable.

The plot of Jessica Z. was spectacular, and the setting particularly eerie. The whole book is set in an uncertain time, a time when suicide bombers are common and it seems like they are becooming commonplace. It was frightening, yet oddly familiar. Jessica and her friends and family seem to go about their daily lives as normal, yet when another bombing occurs, a national tragedy, it seems like just another tragic blip on the radar. They seem to know that another one is just around the corner. Klomparens doesn't really expand on what it is that is causing all of these people to blow buses up, but this elusiveness made the book more compelling if anything. In the midst of all of the uncertainty of the time, Klomparens manages to tell the story of a normal girl with normal problems: she's unsure of her new relationship with Josh, her mother is overprotective, and she forms a new friendship in the oddest of circumstances. All of these aspects combined to create a story that was both hard to put down and easy to relate to.

I read Jessica Z. as part of the initiative Make a Book a Bestseller. Just by buying this book, you could win a Kindle! Full details can be found here.

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Recommended to: Fans of women's fiction, fans of well-written fiction in general
Challenges: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge 2010


  1. thanks for posting this review. i was on the fence about reading it, but your review got me interested. shawn should be taking you out to dinner! :)
    if you want to read other great books with a male writing in a female voice, check out "she's come undone," "memoirs of a geisha," and "a thousand splendid suns."

  2. Well, you've sold me on this one. I'm jotting down the title so I don't forget. If I could read The Road without knowing why the world was the way it was, I could do it again with this book. ;)

  3. Melissa: I'm so glad that you're giving it a chance! It surprised me how much I loved it. I've already read "She's Come Undone"- isn't Wally Lamb amazing??

    Catherine: Thanks!

    Diaryofaneccentric: It's definitely worth reading. I didn't really know why things were how they were, but somehow that just managed to make the book seem more real.

  4. Oooh, you've sold me! Sounds great.