"A Candle Loses Nothing By Lighting Another Candle" - Father James Keller

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Catherine McKenzie Reviews “Jessica Z.” by Shawn Klomparens

Jessica Z. by Shawn Klomparens

Blurb: When Jessica Zorich met a tall, charismatic artist at a San Francisco party, her life had been all about coping: with a baffling and dangerous world, with a mostly inane job, and with a sweet but meandering relationship with her upstairs neighbor. But Josh Hadden doesn’t cope: he’s a man of action, of big visions, and of relationships that span the globe; a man certain of his passions, politics, art, and desire. And what Josh desires most is Jessica—at a time when being desired might be the most desirable thing of all.
Book Length: 352
Publisher: Delta
Author Website: www.shawnklomparens.com


Jessica Z. is set in an alternative, post-9/11 future (a flash-sideways for all you Lost fans out there) where our security concerns are more than justified. You see, people are blowing up buses in San Francisco at regular intervals, shaking the world, and reshaping people’s lives in an instant.

Against this tense background, we meet Jessica, a woman in her late twenties who’s struggling to find her place in the world. She’s involved in a dysfunctional way with her upstairs neighbor, Patrick. They are clearly desperately in love, but neither can come out and say it and both thinks the other is the reason things aren’t working out. So Jessica imposes a rule – no more sleeping together. And soon after, she meets Josh, a controlling and gifted artist. They become involved, almost against Jessica’s better judgment, and she becomes the focus of Josh’s next project – a map of the human body, hers.

As the slow, and sometimes embarrassing, process of mapping her progresses, Jessica becomes increasingly concerned about Josh, and his influence over her. He is so certain about everything, it shuts out everything else, even her. She knows she needs to break free of him, but breaking up is hard to do. And then something literally knocks her sideways and she’s faced with a whole new set of problems and suspicions. Can she fix herself and find her way back to Patrick?

I enjoyed this novel very much. Klomparens creates a realistic female voice in this first-person present narrative, so much so that I doubt you’ll remember a man wrote the book for much of it. It is by turns funny, poignant, interesting and touching. It made me laugh and, I admit, cry – it made me feel.

Klomparens also weaves tension and suspicion throughout the story, particularly in the latter sections. Because the book just starts at a particular moment in Jessica’s life, no explanation is given for the state of the world, it just is. This creates some (intentionally, I think) disorientation, which keeps you on the edge of your seat and turning page after page.

This book might be a little hard to categorize, genre-wise, but that’s not a problem for me. It’s just good. Read it.

Reviewed By:
Author Name: Catherine McKenzie
Author Tagline: Author of Canadian bestseller SPIN

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In accordance with the new FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, Kiki Howell of An Author's Musings, would like to advise that in addition to purchasing my own books to review, I also receive books, and/or promotional materials, free of charge in return for an honest review, as do any guest reviewers.