Book Title: Sway
Genre: YA Romance/Coming of Age
Author: Jennifer Gibson
Date Published: 9 August 2012
There was something different about Jessie. She struggled to fit in at school, surrounded by a web of lies and deceit...until she met Ethan.
Based on a true story, the novel “Sway” is about a hearing impaired teenager named Jessie who tries her best to blend in at school. Every day proves to be a test of her resolve when she is constantly plagued by the ruthless pranks of her classmates who are determined to make her life miserable. When a handsome stranger arrives in the nick of time, Jessie wonders if he is too good to be true. Is Ethan’s attention genuine, or will he betray her trust, too?
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a wonderful young adult romance/coming of age novel. I loved it!
Jessie is a great character. I did like her, but hated her attitude at times, especially when she is full of angst, as she comes across as bratty. She is a fifteen (turning sixteen) year old teen with a hearing impairment. This is her story as she deals with school bullies, her hearing issues and the possibility of having a boyfriend.
This story is very easy to get into. The characters are well developed, and the story is very relatable. The scenes are very well described, and I could picture them with ease. I could understand Jessie's angst at being bullied, having been bullied myself at school for wearing glasses. However, I felt that the bullies would have picked on her regardless of her "disability". Children, especially those of middle grade and teenage (not all, I grant you) years can be extremely hurtful or judgmental about their peers due to differences that they see as "not cool". I think that Jessie herself is extremely judgmental towards her classmates in turn. She doesn't go out of her way to be friendly, and is extremely prickly towards anyone who even tries to befriend her. She has an almost visible brick wall built up, which I am surprised that Ethan manages to get through. The closest she has to a friend is her cat, Peter Parker. However, Ethan does get through her brick wall, and we get to see the inner Jessie as she opens up.
Not having a hearing impairment myself, I couldn't quite relate to the story, but I did find myself intrigued at how someone like Jessie relates to the rest of the world. In a way, there is no difference (in my eyes) whether you have a hearing impairment or a sight one. We, as human beings, see the world in similar but completely different ways. Our experiences shape our lives, but we have the ability to either go with the flow, or stand ridged and be set in our ways. Jessie is still trying to find out where she fits in the world, and it is interesting watching her character grow throughout the story. I am now looking forward to reading Compass, the next book, as soon as I can.
Jennifer Gibson has written an intriguing and interesting YA story based in truth. The story is not especially fast paced, but I found it a quick read. I love the way the story flows from scene to scene; it's extremely fluid. This is an author I am looking forward to adding to my favourite authors list.
I highly recommend this book to young readers aged 12 to 16, and to adults who love reading younger YA romance or coming of age novels. - Lynn Worton
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