Review of NERVOUS by Zane
Atria Books, September 2003
Jonquinette Pierce has never had a boyfriend, never made love, never even had strong friendships with other women, but her body has. The weekdays belong to Jonquinette--weekends and nights, to Jude. Jude emerged in second grade, when Jonquinette was being picked on by other girls. Jude wasn't afraid to break the rules, to use violence to protect her fellow self. And when Jonquinette's fears drive her from sex, Jude takes over that part of her existance as well. But now, Jonquinette is seeking psychiatric help--and Jude is threatened. Will she destroy their common body in her efforts to fight back, or will she, perhaps, take over completely?
Author Zane (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Zane) combines strong erotica with a well-thought-out discussion of multiple personality disorder. Jude is hot, using sex for pleasure, empowerment, and self-destructiveness simultaneously. Jonquinette is inexperienced when it comes to sex, but is definitely interested, especially when a hunk moves into her condo complex. Zane also deals with African-American culture and the relationship between blacks and whites in America, but weaves this theme into her story seamlessly.
Developing multiple personalities is a reaction to extreme stress. Jonquinette will have to come to terms with her past if she is ever to re-integrate her personality. Jude's protectiveness is on full force. She's fighting to protect Jonquinette and herself, even if it kills both of them. Over the course of the story, Jude becomes more and more destructive attempting to ruin Jonquinette's work environment, her budding romance, and her relationship with both of her parents. Even Jude cannot understand what she fears most--until both sides of this woman must confront it.
Zane's writing is straightforward and approachable, with explicit language that may offend some readers. Her discussion of MPD is sympathetic and psychologically sound. I thought Jonquinette moved into a sexual relationship with Mason without as many problems as I would expect in a conflicted character, but the healthy bonding between Jonquinette and Mason, contrasted with Jude's unhealthy obsession with sex, created a strong contrast.
NERVOUS begins with a short story Zane wrote for an earlier collection--a story that expresses elements of MPD and inspired, but is not quite that of Jonquinette and Jude. The dichotomies between good-girl/bad-girl, angel/whore, innocence/experience are neatly laid out with the device of multiple persons in a single body.
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