I should point out that I normally don’t read young adult fiction. It’s just not a genre that totally grasps my interest; however, I will admit to wanting to read Jolene Stockman’s The Jellybean Crisis based on the cover alone. I mean, look at it! It’s gorgeous! In the end Stockman’s writing had me riveted. It’s a fun story, and I believe in the message in the book: You aren’t limited to just being you, you can be many things, but most importantly don’t forget about YOU.
Poppy Johnson is a 16-year-old who does everything that is expected of her. Along the way, she loses the most important aspect–herself. She has a plan: attend Columbia, major in finance, and then work on Wall Street. She has a blueprint (yes, Stockman incorporates her Total Blueprint steps into the book) and sees life through jelly beans. For her the green jelly beans taste the worst and therefore anything she doesn’t like are the green jelly beans. While everything she does like or loves are the red jelly beans because the red ones taste the best (that they do).
Everyone, including her teachers, has a high level of expectation for Poppy; and naturally when she wins a coveted scholarship, everyone assumes she will proceed as planned. However, her world is turned upside down. Moments before the announcement of the scholarship recipient, she meets with the new guidance counselor who tells her it’s okay to try new things and lose yourself along the path. Poppy rejects the award (much to the horror of people around her) to take a gap month–a month to try out new things and quite possibly decide if her future on Wall Street is what she truly wants. Through a series of adventures she grows and learns that sometimes it’s okay to try other avenues to find your true calling.
I applaud Stockman for the realism used. Poppy has two best friends, Bex and Ella. All three have goals and dreams. Bex wants to be an engineer, and Ella wants to be an actress. When Poppy announces she’s taking a month off from school, her friends don’t quite understand why. Nor do they understand her mini meltdown and why she rejected the scholarship. Even her teachers don’t understand. That felt real. Often times we see someone reject something that is totally out of character, and all we can see is them throwing their life away. Poppy’s parents have a right to be concerned; but at the same time, she needed to be in charge of her life. So when I see Bex and Ella not supportive of Poppy’s decision, it hurt because here are the two people who are supposed to support her and be there, and yet they aren’t. Truthfully, you know they are secretly jealous of her and yet think that just because she’s not attending school that she can still make plans to meet them. Sadly, all three girls get a dose of reality and what it’s like in the real world.
I like that Stockman introduced the subject of a gap year, something that normally is seen for example in the UK or Australia. In the US there is still that mentality that taking a year off will put you behind everyone else, which I don’t believe. Many people can be on track with taking summer classes and still graduate a year or two later because they are busy taking classes in other areas. The experiences gained from a gap year are beneficial. While Poppy didn’t get a whole year off, she got a month. What she learned she can apply to life. She got to figure out what she doesn’t want based on her short sojourn.
If I could, I’d like to take the time to go discuss Stockman’s use of her book Total Blueprint. It’s not done in a “here’s my book and in your face.” It’s not obvious to the reader unless you are familiar with Total Blueprint. It provides a perfect example of how your blueprint can change, and it’s okay to do so because along the way you get to modify your own personal goals. I would rather be in Poppy’s shoes and modify the plan than to realize in the end I really didn’t want to be that doctor, but a baker instead.
I loved the ending of The Jellybean Crisis; it was believable. And although I wanted Poppy’s story to continue, I like to think her new blueprint is kicking ass, and along the way, Bex and Ella also revised their goals. Perhaps the two of them created their own kick-ass blueprint. I also would have liked to have seen and learned more about Stadford, Poppy’s love interest, although he’s not introduced as one until later in the book. Overall, it was a fun book to read, and I think all young girls could benefit from reading this. It has a positive message, and it’s important to know that it’s okay to change your blueprint and modify it as you go.