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Book Review: This is Not the Jess Show

By Jessica Oravec


Jess Flynn is a typical ‘90s teenager, growing up in a small town. She likes to hang out at the mall, listen to CDs, and spend time with her friends. Her parents are super overprotective, her younger sister is sick with a rare disease, and she has just realized that she’s got a big crush on her childhood best friend. Things are not perfect, but she loves her family and her small town.

But then, things start to get weird. Half the town is struck down with a mysterious flu. Jess keeps hearing faint words that she can’t quite understand. One day, a black device with an Apple logo falls out of a friend’s bag, and Jess makes a discovery that will change everything. In the end, she will have to decide what she wants — reality or make believe.

In This is Not the Jess Show, author Anna Carey does an excellent job of creating Jess’ environment. All of the ‘90s paraphernalia is there including a CD collection complete with artists like Tori Amos, Jewel, Fiona Apple, and Alanis Morissette. As Jess’ story develops, Carey teases that all isn’t right in her world. Once the truth is uncovered, the story takes off, as Jess runs toward reality.

Although it is written for young adults, this book is relevant for everyone today, as we grapple with what is real and what is fiction — especially on social media. In the end, we all must decide how far we will go to uncover the truth. This is Not the Jess Show is like The Truman Show meets Black Mirror. It is an engaging story that will have you questioning the depths that people will sink in order to become famous.