Sunday, July 26, 2015

"Jinx" by Margaret Wild

by Margaret Wild

Jinx is Margaret Wild's debut novel-in-verse. Written in 2001, I found this book while browsing through the young adult literature in my local library. Jinx tells the story of Jen, whose first love relationships are so devastating that she believes she is jinxed. Read on for an excerpt and my review.
Alternate cover:

Do not love me.
Be warned!
I am Jinx.
No one is safe from heartache. Not Jen, Jen's mother, Jen's father (the Rat), or her friends and neighbours.
Each yearns for connection, but love can't always stay. And Jen's first encounters leave her fractured, reckless - no longer Jen, but Jinx.
Young or old, everyone in Jen's life has a story to tell. Margaret Wild reveals the essence of their lives in this fine, fierce, deeply compassionate novel of loss, longing, courage, and joy.

JEN >>> dream machine
Charlie loves two things:
and his dream machine.
It was a rusty old bomb
but Charlie and his dad
worked on it for a year.
It's a Mazda RX2 Capella
with a rotary engine,
lowered suspension,
tinted windows,
sports exhaust,
alloy wheels,
and a sound system with
subwoofers and an amp.
You can hear it booming
a mile away.
Mom says it's embarrassing:
"Testosterone on wheels."
Once, she needed a lift--
wore dark glasses
and huddled in the back
in case her friends saw her.
I don't tell her how we cruise
up and down Norton Street
making the coffee drinkers

Praise for the Book
"Jinx is a poignant look at a teenage girl who goes from being unhappy with her life for being perfect, to being unhappy with her life for being unlucky. During the tremendous turn of events, Jinx realizes that her life was great before tragedy struck, and wishes that she had never been unhappy with being known as perfect Jen. Margaret Wild has created a wonderful verse novel filled with the emotions that teenagers, both male and female, feel everyday in their lives. A wonderful book for all, especially those going through what they believe is turmoil." ~ Erika Sorocco
"The book Jinx is and awesome book. This book is about a girls named Jen that gets the nickname Jinx. She gets this nickname because of really bad situations she has with a series of boyfriends. Jen starts hanging out with a bad crowd and starts doing more bad things. But in the end of this book she ends up happy. The author Margaret Wild is an really good writer. She keeps you from putting down the book with the exiting events in it. If you are a person who likes the kind of books that are dramatic and keep you exited then this is the book you want to read! Trust me it is GREAT!!" ~ megan
"Connected poems, ranging in length from three lines to two pages, compellingly tell the story of Jen, a self-proclaimed jinx. Here, Wild gently traces the ebb and flow of Jen's observations and changing moods as she weathers the tragic, unrelated deaths of two consecutive boyfriends. The volume also offers an intimate glimpse of those closest to the teen [...] Together, the poems create something larger: a portrait of a young woman pulling herself out of despair." ~ Publishers Weekly
"... the story is told in verse form. This technique allows the author to acquaint readers with each character and to weave a powerful story of teen angst. The voices are distinct, and all ring true, giving insight into the parents' lives and concerns as well as those of the teens. While the setting is in Australia, the central theme of family dynamics is so universal that it could be anywhere." ~ Sharon Morrison

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
Jen is good girl who becomes a troubled teen. All she wants is to be loved. But when her boyfriend Charlie dies in tragic circumstances, she starts drinking in order to escape. After a series of unfortunate accidents, Jen is nicknamed Jinx - "Jinx, they say, but she likes it and takes it as her new name." Will Jinx ever find happiness and find her way back to Jen?
This novel-in-verse is written in a simple, yet lyrical manner, and is full of interesting characters: Jen's father (the Rat) who abandoned her when her sister was born, Jen's mother who is in love with a man who doesn't know she exists, Jen's friend Ruth who is known as Ruthless for being ruthlessly honest, Connie who hides from her Greek parents the fact that she is a lesbian, Serena who craves the attention of her parents, Jen's first love Charlie, Jen's sister Grace who has Down's Syndrome, the Rat's new wife Stella who is admitted to a psychiatric clinic for depression, Ben who has a chip on his shoulder about being short, and Hal who blames himself for an accident that wasn't his fault.
The subject matter is heartbreaking and deals with many kinds of loss, but especially the loss of a child by its mother. As a mother of two teenage daughters, and having once been a teenage girl myself, I related to this book on many levels. I especially loved "what we don't like about our mums" and the later "what we like about our mums".
Best read in one sitting, this book is sure to be a hit with teenage girls - and their mums.

From the Author
I was working full-time and finding it difficult to write a sustained narrative. So I started writing small pieces and found I enjoyed focussing on emotions, scenes and characters. Over the past couple of years the small pieces increased in quantity until I actually had the makings of a novel.

About the Author
Margaret Wild is one of Australia's most highly respected and popular children's authors.
Wild was born in Eshowe, South Africa, an early European settlement now a market town. Her bank manager's family moved frequently and she attended state schools in Johannesburg. She came to Australia in 1972, worked as a magazine feature writer, and finished her education at Australian National University in Canberra. In Sydney she raised a family, worked as a freelance writer, worked sixteen years as a book editor in children's publishing - 1984 to 2000, finally at ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) Books.
Wild's books explore a diverse range of themes but she is particularly noted for exploring issues of identity, trust, and death. Let the Celebrations Begin (1991) focused on the imminent release of Jewish prisoners from a Nazi concentration camp, while in The Very Best of Friends (1989) the death of a farmer prompts his widowed wife to find the love to care for their respective pets, a cat and dog, equally. Fox, illustrated by Ron Brooks using the colours of the Australian landscape, is a powerful story about betrayal.
Wild has published two verse novels, Jinx (2001) and One Night (2003). These books investigate the trials and anxieties faced by teenagers coping with school, relationships and growing up.
She now lives in Sydney.