Just Jaime by Terri Libenson

Just Jaime

Information

Goodreads: Just Jaime
Series: #3 in Libenson’s Middle School series
Source: Library
Publication Date: May 2019

SummarY

Jaime never imagined that she would spend the last day of seventh grade watching her friendships fall apart.  Her BFF since forever, Maya, no longer seems to like her, now that their new friend Celia is pulling the strings.  And, because Jaime is known as a mean Gossip Girl herself, she’s not sure she can even make new friends.   This is about to be the worst summer ever.

Star Divider

Review

Just Jaime by Terri Libenson puts a twist on the standard middle school friendship story by featuring, not an overlooked or bullied or introverted protagonist, but rather a Gossip Girl, a girl responsible for the bullying. Jaime and Maya have been best friends since they were little, but now that Celia has joined their group, Celia and the others keep making fun of Jaime.  They say it is all joke, but Jaime is not sure.  Jaime’s never had to worry about eating alone before or making new friends.  But, suddenly, she has to confront the fact that her old friends do not like her and hardly anyone else does, either. Just Jaime does a marvelous job of making a mean girl human and sympathetic, without excusing her actions.

The mean girls in stories always fascinate me because I have never understood how being mean makes a person popular.  It cannot be that they are pretty or rich or charismatic–surely other people in the school are also those things, but nice.  So it is interesting to see a story told from the perspective of a mean girl, one does not see herself as particularly mean, but rather as a high-spirited individual who just loves to talk.  About other people.  Only when she begins to be bullied herself (by her own ostensible friends) does she begin to see how others might feel hurt.

Just Jaime is a heartwarming story about a girl learning that it is okay to be herself, even if that means she has to find new friends.  Along the way, she realizes that new friendships must be formed by asking forgiveness and choosing to be kind.  She even discovers that there are things to talk about that do not include gossip about her classmates.  Some may struggle with seeing the humanity in a former mean girl.  But that is what makes Just Jaime so marvelous.  It is a reminder that even the mean people are sometimes just looking for a place where they belong.

5 stars

7 thoughts on “Just Jaime by Terri Libenson

  1. dinipandareads says:

    Wonderful review! This sounds like an interesting MG read. Always curious to see what makes someone popular over others too. How does that hierarchy get defined so quickly and so young too?!

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      Sometimes I think the popular become just imagine they’re popular. I certainly never cared about the “popular” kids at school. Sure, they had more money and were snotty, but I had my own friend group and didn’t waste time thinking about them! I have no idea what their school experience was like. Perhaps they imagined the rest of us were all desperate to be their friends, when we weren’t.

      Liked by 1 person

      • dinipandareads says:

        I totally get this. I wasn’t fazed by the popular kids, except for when I ended up being paired with one of them or had to deal with them in some way because they were just awfully mean people and I didn’t understand why they thought their parents’ money entitled them to be complete assholes to others. But I know a lot of people got caught up in that ‘popular people hype’ just because you get ‘seen’. I think they definitely put themselves up on pedestals (maybe not all of them, but a lot of them sure).

        Like

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I’ve actually always been vaguely confused by the idea of “popular kids,” even when I was in school. I mean, media gives one the idea that “popular” people are the rich maybe kind of mean kids, but…are they actually popular? Do they have friends? Do people like them? Do people not in their friend group WANT to be in their friend group??? Honestly, the most popular kid in terms of “people really liked him and went out of their way to catch his attention” was a smart kid who played in the band. If asked to point out “the popular kids,” I’m not sure if I would have pointed to him or the random rich kids.

      Liked by 1 person

      • dinipandareads says:

        My experience was a lot more like what the media portrays. I went to an international school where the rich kids were the cream of the crop and everyone wanted to be friends with them just so they could say they hang out/eat lunch/got invited to go with so-and-so. It was a lot about the who’s who and the money at my school. To say that the school was divided into the same cliques as shown in popular movies etc. would not have been an understatement. It was overall pretty awful. I totally agree with your idea of what makes a popular person. It makes a lot more obvious sense to me for that someone to be a person everyone genuinely likes and wants to be friends with — the ‘all arounder’ type — rather than someone whose parents are rich. 🤷🏻‍♀️

        Like

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