Unfortunately, Just Jaime was just average for me.
Just Jaime by Terri Libenson is a middle-grade graphic novel that follows Jaime and Maya, two friends at odds before summer vacation. Ever since Jaime and Maya befriended two new girls at the start of middle school, Jaime notices her best friend get pulled further and further away by the leader of the pack who frequently puts down Jaime. Maya wants the popularity that her new friends offer, however, she struggles to determine if that popularity is more important than her friend Jaime.
I saw Just Jaime available within my library’s e-books. I read Real Friends by Shannon Hale earlier this year and the plot of this book sounded extremely similar despite taking place in different time periods (Real Friends is a memoir of Hale’s experience in middle school and Just Jaime is a fiction story that takes place in the present). Since these stories were so similar, I constantly found myself comparing the two graphic novels. Sadly for Just Jaime, I enjoyed the other story a little bit more.
One aspect of Just Jaime that I enjoyed were the two perspectives, which was not present in Real Friends. In Just Jaime, you get to see the story from Jaime and Maya. I think this helped stray away from the typical mean girl trope often present in children’s books targeted towards girls because readers get to see the peer pressure that Maya faces. While Maya’s actions may not be the best, readers can sympathize more with her character.
Another aspect of this book that I enjoyed was its reflection of real life. I think many readers will relate to Jaime and Maya. Many of the situations presented in this book, like ending friendships through text, would be very relatable to the target audience of this book. While I think Real Friends captured my attention and captivated the emotions surrounding friend breakups better, I think the modern setting would be more relatable to the book’s target audience.
While there were several aspects of this book that I enjoyed, there were several places where this book fell flat for me. Even though the events in this book were relatable, they were not fleshed out enough for me to really feel the emotions of the main characters. While the character’s actions did play a large role in the book, I mostly remember a string of events than the characters themselves. Additionally, I felt like the problems in this book were resolved too quickly. Also, I was not the biggest fan of this particular art style, however, that is more of personal preference.
Overall, Just Jaime was an average read for me. Maybe if I hadn’t read Real Friends earlier in this year, which is extremely similar in plot and message, I would have enjoyed this one a little bit more. I give Just Jaime three out of five stars.