Youth Link Review

Oct. 14, 2014

Young Love Explored

The Boy Next Door — A Jamaican Teenage Love Story

| Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"Don't start crying again Babe, I'm here now. Trust me... I'll be there, know that."

Noelle squeezed him back. His body was firm and strong. She felt secure and grateful for his support..."

MANDISA M Parnell has been writing for as long as she can remember. The Boy Next Door (TBND) has been an ongoing constant project throughout her teenage writing years, where she fed her close friends with the juicy details of the romantic chronicles.

It is only since July of this year, however, that the book has been made available to the public.

TBND follows a predominantly teenage cast in an upscale community in St Andrew. The main characters (the ones struck by Cupid) are 17-year-old Noelle Goodison and 18-year-old Ryan Reese.

Parnell is not only experimenting with a teenage cast in a romance novel, but also by setting the story so close to home, and alternating between Jamaican Creole and Standard English. While this is a refreshing change to lovers of Caribbean literature, the code-switching sometimes gets very confusing, especially when characters use both vernaculars in one statement.

"And, as I stood there, speechless, mouth hanging wide open -- trying not to have a coronary -- he walked up to mi an' sweep mi up inna 'im big bear arms and start to spin mi around and around!" is an example of this.

The author also employs "text language" in the novel. This is done when one of the main characters, Trish, moves abroad leaving her best friends behind and they communicate mainly via e-mail. Here we see the shortening of a lot of words and numerous slangs and abbreviations being used.

The plot of the novel held no surprises for the reader. What you see on the cover is what you get in the book: 'A Jamaican Teenage Love Story'.

The book starts off on a low-key, when Trish and her family are moving away, leaving her house conveniently empty for "the boy next door" to move into. This is followed by a series of expected, if not cliché scenes, where the potential couple starts bumping into each other, girl gets upset over trivial issue and boy thinks it's cute, she talks incessantly to her friends about him and so on.

The plot received a little well-deserved development near the end of the book, however, when the past loves of both character appear, with the intention of winning back their respective partners. Shortly after this threat to the drawn-out fairy-tale was introduced though, the book ended, and readers were urged to look out for the sequel The Boy Next Door 2: The Ex-girlfriend.

Generally, the book was a fair attempt that deserves commendation, as not many authors dare to write their book so close to home, and especially about young love.

Parnell is also to be praised for including characters of different ethnicities and social and religious backgrounds, as this is a true reflection of Jamaicans.

The excitement and suspense are expected to be heightened when the plot thickens in the sequel.

For information on where to get The Boy Next Door — A Jamaican Teenage Love Story check out the author's official website or call Mandisa M Parnell at 445-7279.

-- Candiece Knight