Sunday, 28 October 2012
Review: The Jelly Bean Crisis by Jolene Stockman
Story time! When I was at uni, I did a buttload of work experience to try and figure out what I wanted to do. The first time I stepped into a magazine office, it felt right. No, it felt amazing. You know what I did all week? Photocopied. Filed. Did some more photocopying. Transcribed an interview. More photocopying. More filing. When Friday came 'round and my week was over, the editorial co-ordinator gave me an early mark. It made me sad. I wanted to stay. I had loved every second of those menial tasks. Because I was in the same room as the people who made magazines. I was helping them, in however small a way. I felt special. I looked around and thought "I could do this, for real."
I did three more weeks of work experience at different magazines, with varying degrees of mundanity. At one place, pretty much all I did was get coffee and take trips to the mail room, with a side of sorting out cupboards of products and old magazines. I still loved every second. It was exciting. I soaked up everything I could about the way things were done and knew that it was a career I wanted to pursue. I knew that I might be getting coffee now, but eventually, if I got lucky, I'd be writing and seeing my work in print. That was the end goal, and I knew I had my work cut out for me to get there.
I then spent six months working for free as an intern. I was thrilled to do it, travelling for nearly three hours each way just to get to the office. I learnt as much as I could while I was there and did everything I could to make myself useful. It paid off. At the end of the six months, I got a part-time job related to my internship. Eight months later, on the day I graduated uni, I got a full-time job as features writer for the magazine I'd interned at. I was able to skip the entry level position and go straight into what was pretty much my dream job. I felt incredibly lucky. I was incredibly lucky.
Why am I telling you this? To give a bit of context as to why, despite really wanting to like The Jelly Bean Crisis, it just didn't work for me. I thought the idea was cute - a high schooler named Poppy, someone who has always saved the best jelly beans (and everything else in life) for last, has a mini-breakdown and decides she wants the best now. So she has a "gap month" and embarks on a variety of work experience placements to figure out exactly what she wants. The thing is, she already knows what she wants - she wants everyone to instantly recognise her brilliance and give her the top job straight away. This kind of entitled attitude drives me nuts. I see it all the time. We have at least two "workies" in our office every single week. We never make them get coffee, but they do a few mail runs each day in addition to putting together their own mini-magazine that gives them a taste of every department. Many of the workies are great - excited to be there, keen to ask questions and learn as much as they can. But then there are those who get pissy when they find out they're not going to get a chance to interview a celebrity, style a photo shoot or automatically get their work published. A couple of times, girls have cut short their five days - five days that many wait a year to get the chance at - because they think the work is beneath them. Let me tell you, this is not the way to impress people, especially if you might want to work in the industry down the track. Because everybody starts at the bottom, and sticking your nose up at work even the editor had to do to begin with does not make you special - unless you count being a speshul snowflake.
This is exactly the way Poppy acts throughout the book. At every single workplace - and she goes through a few in her month - she's shocked that she actually has to start at the bottom. She judges everything and everyone, and finds that it's all below her. She doesn't really give anything a proper chance, moving on quicker than you can say "I quit". The thing is, it's not really a problem for her, because each time she manages to find a new position immediately, with little to no effort on her part. Which is completely unrealistic, not to mention infuriating. And it literally teaches her that you can "get in anywhere, if you just ask". Maybe I'm jaded, but the world just does not work like that.
Poppy's poor attitude alone may have been tolerable (though probably not), but in addition to that, she was also kind of a bitch. She made snarky, nasty comments about pretty much everything - including the woman who actually enjoyed her mundane job at the cookie factory, or another who dared not to shave her armpits. Then there was the way she treated the whole concept of counselling. I'm paraphrasing, but she's basically like: it's for crazy people, ewwww. Yep, that's a really helpful way to frame a vital service - not to mention mental health issues - especially to a teenage audience who might already feel like freaks if they have mental health problems, and embarrassed about seeking counselling, even when they really need to. The idea that this might turn off even one teen from seeing a counsellor, or might make someone feel bad if they do, was very unsettling for me.
I just did not like Poppy, so it was a struggle to get through hundreds of pages in her company. The secondary characters were OK, though a little flat overall. I did really like Poppy's grandmother - she was strong, independent and feisty. She was the highlight of The Jelly Bean Crisis for me. I feel terrible for not liking this book - like I said, I really wanted to - and also strange because it seems like everybody else does. Seriously, look at all those glowing reviews! I feel like I must have read a different book - or my personal experience just had a dramatic effect on my enjoyment of it. I think The Jelly Bean Crisis would be great for teens who are trying to figure out what they want in life, and it would probably give them some good ideas and things to think about. It just wasn't for me at all.
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Source: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Published: August 2012, CreateSpace
Get It: Amazon