Title: Possessing Jessie
Author: Nancy Springer
ISBN: 9780823425593
Pages: 88 pages
Publisher/Date: Holiday House, c2010.

“Jason, no?” She wasn’t crying anymore. She felt too dry with terror to cry.
“Oh, for God’s sake, Jessie, don’t get your panties in a bunch.” Jason swung back into the car. “You don’t have to come with me if you don’t want to. Just stay where you are.”
Jason!
“Stay put. I’ll be back in a minute.”
“Don’t go!”
“Chill out, Jessie! I’ll come back for you. I promise.”
So as he sped off, Jessie stood at the side of the dark road, hearing the roar of his motor become more and more distant, trying to tell herself it would be all right; he was a good driver, even driving fast; he would be back–
Then she had heard the scream, scream, screaming of the tires, and the sickening, shattering sound of the crash. (14)

High school senior Jessie is struggling with the death of her younger brother Jason after a reckless driving accident. Jason was always the more outgoing and selfish of the siblings, but he was also his mother’s favorite. Getting tired of her mother’s withdrawal, Jessie first dons Jason’s clothes and then his mannerisms in an effort to draw her mother out of her shell. When Jessie takes her show on the road to school however, her friend Alisha begins to worry about her. Is Jason as dead as they think he is?

I’ve heard of Nancy Springer, but this is the first I’ve read of her, and I think I need to read some more. This was a spooky tale, with a slow transformation escalating to the point that readers are left wondering what’s happening. Readers are transfixed, wondering how far Springer’s going to take it. This is more than a possession tale, and the lack of a resolution makes readers wonder what would happen next. I originally thought that Springer went a little too far, portraying not only a psychological but also a physical change in Jessie. After more reflection, it definitely makes the reactions of the secondary characters more believable, but I think it still impedes the believability for readers. I know, I know, the story isn’t plausible anyways, it’s made up, it’s not true. But the suspension of belief is difficult when considering the extent that it takes us.

I thought Jessie was well-written as she tries to understand what exactly is happening to her and how she should react. She does it first to assist her mother, but she grapples with her feelings, with her survivor’s guilt regarding the accident, and with the attention that her actions garner her. It touches upon sibling rivalry, as readers witness Jessie’s jealousy of her mother’s solitary adoration for Jason. Jason’s arrogance, selfishness, callousness, and insensitivity make him easy to hate, and by the end readers have one more reason to hate him.

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