That Boy, by JILLIAN DODD

Publisher: I think it’s self-published? I couldn’t find anything in the book

Format: Kindle Edition

Judith is absolutely going to kill me because this review is hours late but I felt it was necessary in order to, um, preserve journalistic integrity to re-read the book before I posted a review (since I’ve read about 2 dozen books lately). So if I get yelled at I’m going to remind her I’m doing this for YOU, our reader(s) (of the future). The good news is that I can now claim with 100% truthfulness that this book was just as good the second time as the first. I still laughed, and cried, and sat on my couch in a ball with an internal (and at times external) monologue of: “squee! Squee! I love Phillip. No, I love Danny. Squee! No Phillip….”

Plot: Jadyn (JJ) has been best friends with Phillip her entire life and when Danny comes along during childhood they become an inseparable trio. The book, which is written in quasi-diary form (there are even cute drawings) and told from Jadyn’s point of view, begins with her first kiss at age 10 and chronicles the major events of her life – including first beers, spin the bottle, high school, tragedy, college, lots of football games, and engagements – ending when Jadyn is (I think) 22. And there’s going to be a sequel! (SQUEE!!!)

Review: Of course at the core of the book is the often-used plot of “which boy will JJ choose” but it didn’t matter that I had a very good idea from the beginning, I still loved every second of it. And genuinely flip-flopped a few (dozen) times. What I really loved about Ms. Dodd’s writing was that I didn’t feel at any second like she favored Phillip or Danny over one another, which I think a lot of authors do and is a cop-out in my book. Both guys were genuinely amazing, smart, hunky, wonderful guys.

What also makes this book stand out in relation to the billions of others with the same plot is that a good bit of the middle portion deals with the devastation Jadyn feels after the death of two main characters (not Phillip or Danny – this is not one of THOSE books). Her reactions to everything are so heartfelt and realistic that both times I read the book I’ve had to struggle to read through my tears. In the hands of another author this could come off as simply adding drama for drama’s sake but I didn’t feel that way at all. And I also think that the lesson she takes out of this tragedy, from Our Town (which she had been reading in English class) “do any human beings ever realize life, while they live it – every, every minute?” is truly inspiring. Because it’s all too easy to be comfortable in life but we should remind ourselves every day not to take the people we love for granted.

Okay, serious shit aside. I LOVED THIS BOOK. I can’t even tell you how much. If you haven’t already read it then stop reading this and buy the book NOW. Then come back here, read my review, agree (hopefully) with everything I’ve said and send me a very nice note about how right I am and how Judith shouldn’t be mad at me for being a bit tardy.

Based on the following criteria:

How much did I like the heroine: 10. I love Jadyn. I want to be her but since that’s not possible I want to be her friend (especially since then maybe the boy she doesn’t end up with could marry me?!). I saw a lot of myself in Jadyn – she’s a tomboy, loves sports, sometimes finds having girl friends exhausting, often sabotages herself due to fear of the unknown (who doesn’t?). She’s smart, strong in the face of tragedy and, since it can’t be said enough, has hot friends. She’s awesomesauce.

How much did I like the love interest: 2 BOYS!!! If my math is correct 10 (Phillip) + 10 (Danny) = A ZILLION. I love Danny but first of all can we agree that Danny Diamond is a total porn star name? I’m glad they didn’t mention his whole name too many times since every time they did I would giggle like a 13-year-old boy…or like the trio’s parents when JJ caught them smoking pot in the Jacuzzi. Danny is the player of the trio but the girls don’t care because he’s so hot and nice they still want to be his friend after they break up. Phillip is…sigh. I love Phillip. From the very beginning when he’d play “princess in the tower” with JJ, to their late night phone conversations, to his protectiveness and the fact that he’s always there for her. Oh man. Phillip is amazing. And also: HOT. From what Judith and I have pieced together from extensive scouring of the book for every shred of physical description I’m picturing Tim Tebow’s body with Tom Brady’s face. YES PLEASE.

How believable is the plot: 10. Completely believable. Not only the situations Jadyn goes through but also her reactions, and those of Phillip and Danny. There was never a second when I thought “this is so unrealistic” but it did give me a serious hankering to watch football, drink some beer and eat wings. Unfortunately it’s too late to go to Chili’s but tomorrow is another day!

How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 10. I saw no issues. And I loved the drawings at the beginning (and sometimes middle) of every chapter.

How much did I want to keep reading: 100000. If I was reading this on the subway I SO would have missed my stop, that’s how engrossed I was.

Glasses of wine I drank while reading: 1. Mostly because I cried so much I needed a glass of wine. And, you know, in honor of our fallen friends and all that.

Final Score: Um, A LOT. I think we’re up to one zillion + 100,000+ 50? Who cares, all you should be taking away from this is that the book is awesome and you need to read it. If I ever get to book jump like in the Thursday Next series (by Jasper Fforde – read them) then this is the book I’m going to. Watch out boys!

If you want sneak peaks of the sequel or shall we call it squeequel, check out Jillian Dodd’s personal blog. You will not be disappointed: http://jilliandodd.wordpress.com/

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16 thoughts on “That Boy by Jillian Dodd

  1. Little known Judith fact: I grew up outside of Omaha in a little community known as Millard, NE and let me tell you, girls, we never had guys like Danny or Philip at my high school!!! If we did I would have snatched one up and hidden him away in a cornfield or something to do nefarious things to him. This book is in a word: fantastic!!! I love love loved it and not just because it made me nostalgic for my own high school days. It let us feel as if we were really following JJ’s life and while she was very typically a girl in a way that usually annoyed me, here it worked. JJ loves boys and parties, she hardly ever studies, and is in a sorority for goodness’ sake! But she’s also a very complex heroine in that we watch her transform into an adult and a person who can learn to love one of the two GORGEOUSHUNKYSEXY love interests. Yes, the writing style can be annoying and a bit juvenile at times; yes, you won’t get what the big deal is about Nebraska football; yes, you’ll have no freaking clue why JJ herself is so freaking clueless about her own feelings, but you’ll love every second of this book and will do many a fist pump throughout the final chapters. Plus you get to squee over Philip…sigh…can’t wait for the sequel!

  2. I just need to thank you ladies for an incredible review for my book! And I have two words for you, Judith: Eric Crouch. Millard graduate and honestly, who I thought of when writing about how Danny dealt with people and the media. Eric was great with little kids, reporters, and seriously sexy. I should mention that I grew up near you. In Elkhorn!!
    And you don’t have too much longer to wait for the sequel!! It should be out shortly!!
    Jill

  3. Ohmigod Ohmigod you guys! (please read that in the voice of the amazing Laura Bell Bundy from “Legally Blonde: The Musical”). DID YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENED!??!?!?! The author of an actual book that I reviewed wrote back to us! And said nice things! Granted, nowhere in there was “Judith it’s okay that Ellen is a procrastinator” but I’m sure somewhere deep in all that Nebraska talk it’s encoded.

    AND Judith informed me that the sequel is coming out this month. I am beyond excited right now. I just wish you could have all heard the phone “conversation” Judith and I had when we saw that Ms. Dodd had responded to us. I don’t think any fully sentences were spoken, it was all “did you” “YES” “ohmigod” “I KNOW” “squee” “squee!” “Phillip” “sigh. Phillip”. That is the rough – but fairly accurate – transcript.

    • Y’all crack me up. You do know who Eric Crouch is, like right? If not, google him. You won’t be disappointed. And so far, I’m still just a farm girl from Nebraska who somehow managed to write a fun book about a couple cute boys:) So feel free to talk to me anytime. (And get a twitter account so we can tweet your reviews!!)

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