Jenny B. Jones’ novel, Just Between You and Me, has all the elements of a good book—quirky, realistic characters, an interesting plot with many twists and turns, colorful dialogue, and deep, dark family secrets that keep the reader moving forward for answers. At any point, Just Between You and Me could turn into just another chick lit book. Instead, Jones’ infusion of humor and wit place her among a growing number of writers who can weave together a good tale without turning their novels into a thinly veiled evangelistic tract.
Jones’ main character, Maggie Montgomery, is a former “mean girl” all grown up. The successful cinematographer left her small hometown of Ivy, Texas behind as she made a new life for herself in Chicago. A sudden family emergency causes Maggie to come face to face with an entire town she’s wronged (but doesn’t remember wronging) with the antics of her youth. And, boy, do these people hold a grudge! And it seems like her 10 year-old niece, Riley, is following right in her aunt’s footsteps.
Refusing to shy away from issues like mental illness (schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder), drug addiction, and dysfunctional families, Just Between You and Me has depth and dimension. The characters are quirky and full of life. The dialogue is sharp and amusing, especially between Maggie and her love interest, Ivy veterinarian Dr. Connor Blake. In fact, it is Maggie’s internal thoughts that move the narrative forward as she offers thoughts on junk food (SweeTarts are a fave), her interactions with Dr. Hottie, and her prayers to God. Plus, unlike other chick lit heroines, Maggie isn’t a shopaholic, drunk, or skank.
Jones expertly infuses Maggie’s Christianity into Just Between You and Me. Instead of offering overtones to make this passable Christian fiction or a full-on battle for the reader’s soul, Maggie lives a very normal Christian life—doing daily devotions, going to church, and praying to God. Jones doesn’t sugarcoat the Christian life, nor does she water it down. In fact, it’s a near-perfect example of a woman wrestling with God’s Will while trying to figure out how to help her family, especially her emotionally distant father and drug addicted sister.
Just Between You and Me is refreshing contemporary fiction with a strong moral backbone—one that doesn’t dissolve into “Little House on the Prairie” type romanticism. Excellent writing, hilarious dialogue, and a good plot, Jenny B. Jones’ books are just as good as her blog (read it!). And that’s saying a lot.
*A review copy of this book was provided to me by Jenny B. Jones because she’s cool like that.*