Title: Jerk Magnet, The (Life at Kingston High)
Author: Melody Carlson
Primary Audience/age group: Young Adult, 13+
Genre: Christian Chick Lit
# Of pages: 224
Year of Release: 2012
Part of a Series? No
Rating: 4 (View Scale)
Description: Chelsea is not very happy when her dad announces he is engaged, but her new step-mom turns out to be pretty cool. She even helps Chelsea transform from the painfully shy, geeky girl at her old high school to the most popular fashionista at her new one. Chelsea loves the attention she gets, at first, until she realizes all the guys giving the attention are jerks and the girls seem to hate her. Finally, the only guy Chelsea might be interested in is the only one that does not seem to notice her at all. Will her new plan to win the guy and prove nice girls can be good looking change things, or will she go too far and lose everything she’s worked for?
Review: This fun and witty tale of ugly duckling Chelsea transforming into gorgeous popular guy magnet is a must read for teenage girls. Carlson has created an enduring character through Chelsea with her quirky personality and real-to-life situations. Chelsea’s struggles with wanting to look good versus making good choices with her clothing are lessons every girl deals with at some point. Chelsea must learn how to handle all the new attention she is getting with her brand new look, especially when she gets into several uncomfortable situations with guys. Good thing she has made a true friend along the way who watches out for her on more than one occasion. If you enjoy Christian Chick Lit, this book will not disappoint. It’s a very light read with an upbeat storyline that shares some valuable lessons on modesty along the way.
Rating: 4 for some mature themes
Positive: Chelsea stills seems to be the same humble, kind girl that she was before her transformation. She makes a new friend, Janelle, who always looks out for her. They are honest with each other even to the point of hurting each other’s’ feelings. Janelle especially is quick to forgive explaining to Chelsea how God forgives us, so we should forgive others. Chelsea learns some major lessons on being herself.
Chelsea knows that what is on the inside is more important than what is on the outside. Although she struggles some with making modest choices concerning her clothes, in the end she sees she can still be stylish and modest.
Spiritual Elements: Chelsea used to go to a church youth group in middle school, where she was betrayed by friends and has not been to church since. She throws up a few prayers here and there, but does not pray much beyond that. Then, Chelsea attends a youth group party with her new friend Janelle, where she hears Nicholas give an inspirational testimony about how God changed his life. Chelsea has a spiritual transformation of her own after she attends a Christian worship concert. Her friend Janelle mentors her some about what it means to be a Christian.
Violence: Dayton, a guy who Chelsea is not really interested in but is not sure how to turn away, gets a bit rough with her – forcefully pulling her away from the crowd wanting more than she wants to give. He thinks Chelsea has led him on and becomes angry but storms away before anything happens. He does not approach Chelsea after that.
Sexual Content: The only kiss is between Chelsea’s dad and step-mom.
Some of the items Chelsea chooses to wear attract the wrong kind of attention. First, Chelsea’s step-mom buys her a string bikini. Chelsea wears it to a motel pool ignoring her gut feeling that the suit makes her uncomfortable. She attracts the attention of a very good-looking older guy, who seems to only be interested in her looks. He starts to get a little pushy with Chelsea until her dad, not knowing she went to the pool in something he would not approve of, steps in.
Chelsea receives attention from the drama teacher with a questionable reputation. He is very flirty and touchy-feely with her. He asks her to go over scenes privately, which she does. He makes Chelsea very uncomfortable but her friend Janelle steps in before anything happens.
Other: Chelsea searches magazines for advice on boys.
Recommendation: The story of Chelsea’s transformation highlights the struggles teenage girls and women face with choosing modest clothing. The media encourages dressing in revealing clothing, and portrays the attention received from it as positive. But, as the author shows through Chelsea, the clothing you choose can give others, especially guys, the wrong impression. You can attract the attention of guys who are only interested in you physically and not in what is on the inside.
Also, the Bible mentions on several occasions how God is more concerned about our internal selves than outward appearances. “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.” As 1 Peter 3:3-4 EVS says, do not make such a fuss over your appearance. Worry more about your inward self because a gentle and quiet spirit is more precious to God than outward beauty. However, we can still be stylish without being immodest. Here are some links on modesty from Clash Entertainment and PureFreedom.org.
Another important aspect of the book that deserves in-depth attention is when Chelsea slides into a couple of sketchy situations. More than one guy made her uncomfortable and others stepped in to prevent anything from happening. Being cautious and setting up safety precautions when it comes to dating is a must. Listen to your God-given intuition. If something does not feel right, get out of the situation as soon as possible. Also, never go off alone with someone you do not really know to prevent getting into a questionable situation. This book is most suitable for ages 13 and up.