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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
My Friend Jackson is a young adult urban fantasy novel written by Christopher D. Ochs. Jasmine’s safe and happy place, the basketball court, was suddenly not so safe now that she and her mom had moved out of the projects. Most of the girls playing with her in her new school had played against her while she was attending Eastside. Coach Garcia had heard nothing but good things about her from Eastside Coach Evans, but being known and becoming accepted were two totally different things. Jasmine immediately sensed that the team captain, Nevaeh, was going to make her life miserable as would the other players in the captain’s orbit: Akilah, Trinity, and Madison. Then there was the gangster wannabe who popped into the gym to see what was happening. Jasmine watched as Coach Garcia ordered him out, and Nevaeh surreptitiously waggled her fingers at him. Worse, Jasmine saw the naked hunger on his face as he watched her. Jasmine may have left the projects but whether she would be safer now was anything but certain.
Christopher D. Ochs’s My Friend Jackson is a taut and compelling look at bullying and the social structures young adults must navigate while in school and on the streets. Jasmine is a complex character whose unusual friend, a Jackson chameleon given to her by an elderly neighbor, enables her to make real those revenge fantasies most of us harbor at some point or other in our lives. The plot is thought-provoking and real, and Ochs’s characters are authentic and believable. And while the genre listed is young adult fiction, anyone with an interest in coming of age stories with a psychological-thriller twist to them should consider giving this well-written tale a try. My Friend Jackson is most highly recommended.