By: Zahra Jons
Publisher: DreamPunk Press
Publication Date: April 2021
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
One teen’s accidental possession of a mysterious pink book morphs into an obsession until near-deadly situations arise in Zahra Jons’ second full-length novel, Little Pink Book.
Amelia Perrin is caught off guard when Matt Curnal, a guy she has a crush on at Granby High, says “hi” to her. To hide her embarrassment, Amelia keeps her head down, pretending to study her history notes. What she doesn’t expect is to collide into THE Samantha, one of a perfectly slim with flawless complexion five-girl group. In English class, Amelia suddenly gets sick to her stomach. Later, when Amelia relays the incident of THE Samantha with Casey Fitzgerald, her best friend, their conversation moves to a little pink book—both glittery and stinky—Amelia finds in her bookbag and assumes it belongs to Samantha.
Amelia attempts to investigate the book’s contents only to receive a paper cut in the solitude of her bedroom. She watches wide-eyed as the book’s cover promptly absorbs her blood droplets. The scents of honeysuckle and strawberries immediately overpower the book’s putrid licorice odor. Weirded out by what she witnesses, Amelia returns the book to her bag, intending to give it to Samantha at school. The only problem is that Samantha is a no-show for the rest of the week. Things grow eerie when Amelia receives threatening anonymous texts. As Amelia checks out some of the strange book entries, like “Boston Créme doughnut to Emily Dornhauser,” a peculiar old gypsy woman warns: “You gots to burn it.”
Amelia and Casey deduce that the five-girl group use the cryptic entries to mysteriously transfer their unwanted items (zits, added pounds, and sicknesses) to others at school. The girls assume that it must be dark magic, and Amelia thinks back to the old woman’s cautionary message. Nonetheless, Amelia feels compelled to continue to write down her list of undesirables and pass them on to those “who deserve it.” As a result, Amelia (as well as Casey) begins to trim down nicely. Just as their physical changes take form, Samantha returns to school with her skinny version transformed back to her old heavier self. Although Amelia and Casey befriend her, things grow from strange to downright scary with an uptick of anonymous texts that turn life-threatening.
Zahra Jons has produced a unique tale filled with a slew of “paranormal horror twists.” Jons presents a military brat’s awkwardness having to adjust from one place to the next. It’s only been about a year since Amelia's family left Okinawa, Japan, and settled in Norfolk, Virginia. During that time, she’s made one close friend: Casey. Amelia may be a good student who helps her parents care for her young, energetic twin brothers. Still, she has yet to find a way to fit in at school, especially with her crush, Matt. Little does she know that her life is about to turn upside-down when she comes in possession of the little pink book.
Jons grabs the attention of teen readers, opening her novel with the ubiquitous “girl crush” before shifting into the unfathomable aspects of the little pink book. Using a relatively small but tightly-knit cast, Jons slowly builds narrative tension by sprinkling in mystical eeriness within scenes befitting a teen environment. Although Amelia plays the lead role, Jons has crafted a cast that function more as foils to develop Amelia’s persona than simple secondary characters to enhance the storyline.
Chapters are short with cliffhangers and alternate between Amelia’s life at school, home, and otherwise over several months. While the tension-driven narrative centers on the effects of the little pink book, it also reveals the impacts the book has on Amelia’s life. Whether or not she succeeds in succumbing to the book’s lure remains to be seen.
Quill says: Little Pink Book is a perfect twisty coming-of-age book for teens.
For more information on Little Pink Book, please visit the publisher's website at: www.dreampunkpress.com