Jade suffers from Panic Disorder. While she is on medication and meets with a psychologist, there are other little things she does to help her cope with her disorder, such as tap three times before entering her room, lighting patron saint candles for a little extra help even though she’s not religious, and watching the elephants at the zoo from the elephant webcam. One night, when she’s watching the elephant cam, she notices a boy in a red jacket with a baby in a carrier on his back. For some reason, she is drawn to this boy and feels a connection with him without knowing anything about him. Every day she looks for him on the elephant cam; sometimes he comes in the afternoon with the baby on his back, sometimes he sneaks in after the zoo is closed and it is only him, the elephants, and Jade watching from her bedroom. Jade begins volunteering at the zoo, helping care for the elephants. While she hopes to meet red jacket boy, she really begins to love and bond with the elephants and their keeper, Damian. Just when Jade gives up hope of ever seeing the boy again, he appears in front of the elephant enclosure with the baby on his back. His name is Sebastian, his baby’s name is Bo, and he has a secret, but Jade doesn’t know that. Complicated Jade with all of her own problems falls for complicated Sebastian with problems of his own. They love each other, but will that be enough when Jade learns Sebastian’s secret?
Reaction: This is my first Caletti and I felt like I was reading Sarah Dessen. They both have similar styles. For example, this book was so full of issues, just like every Dessen book I’ve read. Everyone had an issue. Jade with her anxiety; her brother, Oliver, and his hatred of the sports his father makes him play; Jade’s parents and their failing marriages; Jade’s school friends who are all growing apart and going in different directions; Damian and his sadness over leaving his elephant, Jum, when he moved to America; and Sebastian, who is a young father trying to do the best he can. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed The Nature of Jade. I liked this book for the same reason I like Dessen’s book: it portrays life as it really is for most of us, imperfect and complicated. But my hesitations with it are also the same as with Dessen’s books: it’s too much issue. Sometimes I felt bogged down by it all. Caletti’s style definitely fills the need I have sometimes for realistic fiction with romance and truth, so I will be keeping her in mind and be on the lookout for her other titles.