Kate McCaffrey, Saving Jazz, Fremantle Press, 1 August 2016, 312pp., $19.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781925163582
The issues of domestic violence, cyber-bullying, and the tragic consequences of misuse of social media appear in newspaper headlines and news reports with disturbing frequency. In her follow up to the best-selling Destroying Avalon, Kate McCaffrey once again tackles these complex topics, this time from the perspective of Jasmine (Jazz) Lovely, the girl who seems to have it all.
In the small town of Greenhead, north of Perth, drunken teenage house parties can get pretty wild. When one night’s antics get out of control, and are captured and shared on social media, Jazz experiences first hand just how permanent the damage can be. Jazz is lovely both by name and by nature; but in one terrible night, her actions change both her perception of herself, and of those around her. Written from the perspective of bystander and perpetrator, rather than victim, Saving Jazz explores how alcohol, sex, and social media can combine to create a perfect storm from which some never recover.
McCaffrey once again accurately captures the teenage voice, and effectively combines a fast-moving and engaging story with a message that is important for every teen to consider. This book does not shy away from the details. Parts of Jazz’s story are truly confronting, but may unfortunately be familiar to some of its readers. The darkness, however, is balanced with an overall message of growth and redemption, as well as experiences of warmth and forgiveness. Girls aged between 13 and 16 will most likely enjoy this book the most, however it would also be a terrific text to share in class with students of both sexes. Teaching notes from Fremantle Press provide plenty of high quality suggestions, addressing issues of social media and cyber-bullying, as well as violence against women, attitudes towards mental health, whether video games desensitise players towards violence, and strategies for well-being.
This is an excellent young adult read, which will absorb and engage, as well as provoke thought and discussion. It also offers great insight for parents and teachers of teens. A must-have for every high school library.
Reviewed by Kay Oddone