Easy by Kerry Cohen Hoffmann
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing (June 30th 2008)
Hardcover, 176 pages
Source: Own
Challenge: YA Saves, Stand Alone

Easy. At the ripe young age of fourteen Jessica has discovered that getting the attention she wants is just that — easy. It’s not the attention of a divorced mother who spends all of her time grieving over a broken marriage. Nor is it that of a father with a new girlfriend who’s moving on with his life. It’s certainly not the attention of a clueless older sister or a best friend since grade school who still acts like she’s in grade school. No. For some reason being noticed by her friends and family seems to have become almost impossible. Boys — and men — are a different matter altogether. With the right clothes and attitude, Jessica realizes that she can get all the male attention she wants. What she doesn’t realize is how easy it is to get more than you’re ready for.
In this compelling and often harrowing novel for teen readers, first-time author Kerry Cohen Hoffmann delves into the mind of a teenage girl as she attempts to replace the shifting relationships with friends and family with sexual exploration. With candid storytelling rooted in years of personal experience, Mrs. Hoffmann offers a searing look at how easy it is to take a wrong turn in search for the right answers.

 

After her parent’s divorce, Jessica is dying for attention… she quickly finds that one of the easiest ways to get attention happens to be from boys.  Jessica’s mother has turned inward, her father is now living with the woman that helped break their marriage apart, her sister has become their mother’s shoulder to cry on, and Jessica… well she is left to her own devices.  While at first her ‘flirtation’ in her need for attention is innocent, Jessica finds herself becoming more adventurous.  But Kerry Hoffmann’s debut novel is not just about a young teenager looking for attention in the wrong places – Kerry also explores the rippling affects of divorce, growing up, and the introduction of sex.

“He hoots as he passes. Another one whistles. I know this is stupid, inviting trouble. But it feels so good to be wanted, I can’t help myself.” 

The attention Jessica gets from boys soon becomes like an addiction, leaving her craving for more.  That is until she starts to see the consequences of her actions.  She finds herself more and more isolated, despite her found attention, from her family and even her best friend.  Jessica starts to gain a reputation at school – one that many may not necessarily dream of.  Then there is the big “V” card… Jessica finds out how special it really is…

“Everyone says your first time should be magical. You should be in love. You should feel safe. Because you can’t go back once you’ve done it. That will always be your first time. Years later this is what I’ll remember as my first time. That inflated sensation is long gone. Now I just feel nauseous; it is the feeling I get when reality dawns.”

Kerry Hoffmann’s debut novel is a fresh read, exploring the reality of the teenage mind without holding back any gritty details.  While Kerry’s honesty may be too much for some, I found the truth in Jessica’s actions to be a mirror of reality – something that is not done enough. At the same time, Kerry has found the perfect balance of reality of hopefulness, neither going to dark or too light.  I cannot go without mentioning her writing, as it flows with ease, making Easy an ‘easy’ (no pun intended) yet enjoyable read.

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