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Jersey Tomatoes are the Best by Maria Padian

Jersey Tomatoes are the Best

by Maria Padian

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Henry and Eva are Jersey girls, best friends, and hardcore athletes. Henry is New Jersey’s junior tennis champion, and Eva is on her way to becoming a world-renown ballet dancer. Their friendship has sustained them through disappointments and demanding parents, but when they separate to go off to different summer adventures—Henry to a nationally ranked tennis academy, Eva to the ultra-competitive New York School of Dance—can their friendship last through their different experiences and some shocking changes?

JERSEY TOMATOES ARE THE BEST is a deceptively light contemporary story that delves into the darker side of sports without getting preachy. Whether you’re an athlete or not, girl or not, you’ll find something to enjoy in this moving yet fun novel.

Padian’s straightforward narration makes it very easy to relate to these Henry and Eva’s situations. Few of us may be on Henry and Eva’s level in terms of athletics, but it was still eye-opening to read about all the pressure they faced, the difficult choices they had to make. I thought that the girls’ relationships with their parents was a pretty shockingly true portrayal of some overinvolved, living-out-their-dreams-through-their-children parents. The parents were realistically overwhelming: I didn’t consider them exaggerations of the type, and instead could totally see this happening.

I am envious of Henry and Eva’s friendship. These two, equal in pretty much everything, such as skill, looks, and wit, still displayed normal feelings of envy or inferiority at times. It was clear that the girls cared for each other very much, and yet their lives were clearly not wrapped up in the other’s: they both have separate interests and dreams, after all.

Eva’s heartbreaking eating disorder will resonate with anyone who has felt insecure in their bodies, often for all the wrong reasons. The voice in her head that yells at her felt a little extreme to me at times, but I am not one to judge for the voice’s “accuracy;” I just recognize that this is something that definitely happens to people. Henry’s romance at tennis camp also felt slightly contrived at times. Again, however, it may be that that was the point: their relationship was inseparable from their budding fame as star tennis players. And finally, as a Jersey girl myself, I thought it felt a little weird and unrealistic whenever Henry and Eva “acted Joisey”: do people really do that? But hey, maybe they do.

These points didn’t detract from my engagement with the story as a whole, however. JERSEY TOMATOES ARE THE BEST is a solid contemporary read, one that I would highly recommend to people looking for a good book involving female athletes. ( )
  stephxsu | Apr 6, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375865799, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:40 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

When fifteen-year-old best friends Henry and Eve leave New Jersey, one for tennis camp in Florida and one for ballet camp in New York, each faces challenges that put her long-cherished dreams of the future to the test.

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