Unfinished Portrait if Jessica Author: Richard Peck. Pages: 162. Publisher: Delacorte Press. Price: $15, hardcover only.
If Unfinished Portrait of Jessica were really a portrait, the paint on it would be too thick. The "paint" on Jessica's portrait hasn't even been stirred. All the bad stuff is on the top and the good stuff is on the bottom.
I spent all my time sorting through unnecessary "colors" on the picture - overly fantasized and unrealistic details - to try to find the true beauty and meaning of the picture.
The author had good intentions with the theme of this book - discovering your family roots and overcoming the hardships of divorce. But you can barely find it under all the heavy details.
Jessica Ferris is a 13-year-old who never dreamed her parents would get a divorce. When they do, she is furious and blames her dreamy, unrealistic mother for driving her father away.
Fantasizes about father
Jessica spends all her time in her room, staring at the walls, which are covered with pictures of her father. She wishes she could live with him, and enjoy the exciting, adventurous, transient lifestyle that he has as a photographer.
Jessica is thrilled when her wish comes true. She visits her dad at her great uncle's house in Mexico where she discovers unexpected surprises - good and bad.
She is pleasantly surprised by her great uncle, a famous artist, who tells her a lot about her family history. Her second surprise isn't quite as pleasant.
Jessica realizes what a jerk her father is and that she dislikes his lifestyle. She learns that she prefers a more permanent lifestyle, compared to the transient one her dad has. Disappointed, she returns home, hoping to patch up her relationship with her mother.
`Boring and dreamy style'
Most of the details sound like they should be in a Danielle Steele romance novel, but they end up in this young adult book about divorce. The following example shows the kind of exaggerated, boring and dreamy style that most of the sentences in this book have.
"I threw down my towel and began to run. There was a path and steps and then a fork in the path. One way led to the swimming pool; the other went steeper down past cactus clinging to the cliffs. The path became wooden slats, and they became the pier, and I was running flat out in my flapping bathrobe, because it was my dad stepping across onto the pier now, with the sunset in his hair, reaching for a shirt to pull over his big shoulders.
Now he saw me stumbling along with my hair on end, ready to break my neck to be there. It was my dad, like a god from the sea."
I don't recommend this book unless you are a teen or pre-teen interested in reading stories with a dreamy, romantic story lines.