As well as being the queen of chick lit, Paige Toon has added another string to her bow by branching out into young adult fiction. (As it's basically chick lit with a younger audience in mind, I wonder if it should be called egg lit !)
Fans of the author will already be familiar with A-list global rock star Johnny Jefferson, who featured in Johnny Be Good, and his wife Meg, whose story was told in Baby Be Mine (click through to read my review). As well as the two novels, there was an ebook short Johnny's Girl in which the pair are left reeling when Johnny discovers he has a teenaged daughter he knew nothing about.
This teenaged daughter, Jessie, got to tell her side of the story in Paige Toon's first YA novel, The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson. I Knew You Were Trouble is the second in this YA spin off series but, although it's lovely to drop back in on the characters from previous novels and see how their lives have progressed, the book also works fine as a stand-alone novel.
Jessie is still trying to come to terms with the accidental death of her mother a year before and tells enough of her story to fill in the background for anyone who hasn't yet come across Jessie, Johnny or Meg. After spending time in LA getting to know her new family, Jessie has returned home to her maths teacher stepdad, her school friends and a burgeoning romance with school hottie Tom. It may be worlds apart from the glitzy lifestyle she got used to in America but she is happy enough ... until the tabloids get hold of the story of Johnny's secret daughter and Jessie has to excape the media frenzy by running back to LA.
Jessie is a believable character, struggling to come to terms with everything life has thrown at her recently - losing her mum, discovering a whole new identity, calling a famous rockstar dad, falling in love for the first time, ... She has the odd teenage strop and shows a slightly rebellious streak that all teens go through, even without an A-lister parent ! The novel reminded me of a soap opera - somewhere between Grange Hill and Neighbours with a bit of Awkward thrown in for good measure. Jessie's friendships, nights out and boyfriend trouble will strike a chord with all teenaged girls and the odd reference to One Direction and the Hollywood lifestyle will only make it more appealing to this age group.
Reading it for myself, I loved it. Reading it with my almost-14 year old daughter in mind, I did have a few more reservations though. Jess is almost 16 so pretty close in age to my eldest daughter and I felt slightly uncomfortable about the number of times she drinks alcohol and the "sex" scenes (it only gets as far as a furtive fumble but there is talk of heavy petting and losing your virginity too, although I appreciated the safe sex message that was innocently thrown in there). I'm not a prude and I have no qualms about Sophie watching soap operas that deal with these sorts of storylines, but reading a book always makes me empathise more with the characters so I don't want to give her ideas ! I know kids grow up fast though so I'm sure that in a year or two, I won't even think twice about it.
If you're a Paige Toon fan, I recently read and reviewed another of her books - The Sun In Her Eyes - so click through to see what I thought of that.
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £6.99
Disclosure : I received a copy of the book in order to write an honest review.