Jersey Tomatoes are the Best by Maria Padian

Thursday April 21, 2011

Jersey Tomatoes are the Best 
by Maria Padian
March 8, 2011
Knopf for Young Readers
Goodreads summary: This is a hilarious and heartbreaking story of two teen girls and the summer when everything changes for them. Both Henry and Eva are New Jersey natives and excellent athletes: Henry's a master on the tennis court and Eva is a graceful ballerina. 

When opportunity knocks for both of them the summer before their junior year in high school they throw open the door: Henry sees freedom from her overbearing father and a chance to build her talents on the court. Eva sees the chance to be the best as well as even more pressure to be graceful, lighter, more perfect on the dancefloor. 

Soon, Eva's obsession with physical perfection leads her down the path to anorexia, and her health issues overwhelm everything else. But through it all these two best friends know that Jersey Tomatoes are the Best, and nothing will come between them no matter the distance.

Pontifications...In a day and age where the term "Jersey girl" brings to mind all sorts of drunk and disorderly connotations, its refreshing to read about two Jersey girls who are anything but those two things. In fact, don't call them Jersey girls....they are Jersey tomatoes!

When the two best friends are separated for the first time in their lives and go off to their respective dream summer camps things are looking good...Henry is loving her new found attitude away from her pushy, overbearing tennis-dad and Eva succeeds and gets through a super tough audition. Unfortunately, while Henry blossoms in her new found freedom Eva starts to let the pressure get to her and inside her own negativity begins to develop an eating disorder.

When Henry hears about Eva's health problems her first instinct is to run to her side. Realizing this decision could cost her spot at the tennis academy Henry must make a tough decision.

The heart of this story is about two girls who cherish their friendship through thick and thin and loyalty to a friend  in the face of losing your own dreams. I loved this aspect of the book because its such a great example of what friendship is really all about.

There is a lot to like here. A peek into the world of high pressure sports and the infamous parents behind the kids who are rising to the top. Friendship, a little romance and  how teens deal with the body image and the pressure to be successful make this an insightful read. I enjoyed every minute of it!

Best suited for ages 13 and up.