The One That I Want by Jennifer Echols is one of those young adult novels that can be read in one sitting. It has its cute moments that make you go “aw” and moments that make you want to throw the book away. I’ve read The Boys Next Door by Echols, so I had a slight idea of what I was getting myself into. The premise looked cute and promising, but let me warn you, it isn’t as it seems. I’ll explain what I mean in my Negatives. Here’s a synopsis that I think would better justify Echols’s story:
Gemma has big plans for her next year in high school. She plans to try out for the majorette squad, she’s on her way to losing the weight she’s always wanted to lose, and she just wants to survive another couple of years so she can make her getaway. Then she meets Max and his friend, Carter. Just as she believes that Max, a very attractive Japanese-American, is flirting with her, Addison steps in. Addison is Gemma’s “best-friend” who always seems to be abusing Gemma in some way, whether it is belittling her, or sabotaging her chances at love. Even though Addison and Max are dating, Gemma, who begins dating Carter, can’t help but notice that Max flirts with her despite Addison and Carter. It’s all a complicated mess.
Okay, I know I sound like I disliked this book from my synopsis, but I actually didn’t. I disliked a few things, but it was a fun and quick read.
1. The Characters. Not all of them, but some of them drove me up the wall. Especially the protagonist. I hate when protagonists have abusive friends who put them down with snide comments and deliberately embarrass them in front of others. What do I hate more? When these same protagonists don’t stand up to their mean “friends” and instead call them “best-friend”. I understand that this was a growing process for Gemma. I know that this whole Addison being a bitch thing worked out for the plot, but seriously, when an author has such an abused person as their protagonist then wouldn’t it look like a weak person is running the show? Gemma had her best-friend, the guy she calls a good friend and had once loved until he stomped all over her emotions, and the rest of the school bullying her. And to top it all off, Echols “fixes” her protagonist by having her lose weight. I have never liked the message this sends to readers, and I never will.
2. I wanted to learn more about what happens with Gemma and her dad, but Echols (sorry, spoiler) just has Gemma comment on her going to visit her dad. It felt like this relationship was forgotten by Echols in the process of writing the book. It’s almost like she was near the end and said, “Oh crap, her dad!” I wouldn’t have minded meeting him and seeing how he was with the daughter he barely calls. If a character has such an intense anger towards a parent, shouldn’t the author try to show both sides to the reader? Shouldn’t the author resolve the issues between the parent(s) and the child?
3. I’m just going to say that this plot was transparent. I knew what would happen, but hey, it is a fun read, so didn’t put too much pressure on this aspect of the novel.
4. The synopsis gives you the briefest of views into what’s happening. The only hint that’s given is the comment “her so-called best friend” when referring to Addison. It doesn’t say how she met Max (and why she was in the vicinity in the first place, which is important). It doesn’t say ANYTHING about her body-image issues, or anything generally close to what her life is like. All the synopsis says is that she meets a boy who asks her bff out, even though she liked him more than her, and oh-no’s! what will she do?
1. With all the character issues written in the Negatives, I do want to mention how Gemma DOES stand up to her friend at the end and how she grows as a character later down the road. The Gemma in two-thirds of the book drove me insane, but the Gemma afterwards was strong.
2. Despite the annoying little misunderstanding (which, once you start reading the book you’ll know what I mean), the story is cute!
3. The writing was straightforward and quickly paced. That’s probably why I finished this one so quickly. It was well edited and had a good constant narrative voice. The novel is written in first person, past tense, which I loved.
4. I loved the fact that Max was Japanese-American. I mean, how fantastic is that? I’ve always thought of Japanese men as extremely attractive and to see one in a young adult novel was awesome! (I loved his family too!)
Basically, my biggest dislike with this novel was the protagonist and some of the other characters. How they treated her felt so melodramatic and I disliked that it took Gemma almost the whole book to stand up to them. But with that being said, I still liked the book and would recommend it to anyone who wants a quick, light young adult read.
Overall, I give Jennifer Echols’s The One That I Want: