Review: Just Between You and Me, a novel by Jenny B. Jones

Just Between You and Me, by Jenny B. Jones (Thomas Nelson, 2009)

Maggie Montgomery has done video shoots all over the world, but the one place she doesn’t want to be is Ivy, the town where she grew up.

Maggie’s a fairly new Christian, and she senses God has brought her home for a reason…but why?

Her father doesn’t want to see her, but he’s desperate for help with her unruly niece, Riley. Riley’s mom is mentally ill and hasn’t been able to care for her.

Maggie is smart, sassy, and she comes with a lot of emotional baggage. When she shows up in her home town, her high school friend Beth is the only person who remembers her who’s not toting a huge grudge. Maggie’s feisty enough to handle it, but I found myself getting defensive on her behalf.

Handsome veterinarian Connor Blake has some harsh, preconceived ideas about Maggie, but it doesn’t take long for him to understand her almost too well. Maggie thrives on keeping everyone at arms’ length—so why does being with Connor make her want to drop her defences?

Jenny B. Jones writes with a snappy sense of humour and tight delivery. This is one of those novels that works well in the present tense, first person. Present tense usually feels contrived to me, but the character of Maggie has such a strong voice that it feels like she’s really telling us what’s happening. Combined with the title of “Just Between You and Me,” it feels like Maggie’s telling the story one-on-one to a close friend.

Like the few others I’ve read in the Christian chick-lit genre, Just Between You and Me is not all surface and fluff. Maggie’s experience changes her life, and aspects of it—and the process of her learning—can shape readers as well. For all of her daredevil reputation, Maggie has a major fear issue when it comes to relationships—and to water, because she wasn’t able to save her drowning mother.

Just Between You and Me is fresh, funny and real—and the most feel-good book I’ve read in a long time. It’s actually one of maybe five novels or short fiction that I’d count as life-changing. An added benefit for me is the title: every time I thought about the novel, I’d hear the April Wine song.

You can read chapter one of Just Between You and Me or learn more about the author at the Jenny B. Jones website. The Thomas Nelson website has a reader discussion guide you might want to check out after you’ve read the novel. Just Between You and Me is aimed at adults, but Jenny is also the author of novels for young adults: the Katie Parker Production series and A Charmed Life series. YA novels are fun, and I look forward to checking these out.

[Review copy borrowed from my local public library. If you’re in Canada, you can get it via inter-library loan… or buy your own copy. It’s worth it!]

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