Cover Image: Jagged Little Pill: The Novel

Jagged Little Pill: The Novel

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Unfortunately I couldn’t get into this one. There’s so much dialogue that seems unnecessary and not a lot of setting to pull me in. I really wanted to love this one but it’s just not for me. I think if you’re a big fan of the Broadway musical then you’ll dig this further exploration into the same story.
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This is a fairly quick read as it is fast-paced and a lot happens in a short amount of time, which is not surprising since it is adapted from a musical. With an ensemble cast of characters, each dealing with their own issues, most teens will find something relatable in this book, as well as build empathy for others.

The story focuses on five teens: Frankie, a Black child adopted into a white family who is also bisexual, though not out to her family and feels like prop to prove how "woke" her parents, desperate to feel seen and heard for who she is; Nick, Frankie's oh-so-perfect brother, her parents' biological child and mom's golden boy, who feels enormous pressure from everyone to be perfect to help hold his fragile family together and not let anyone down; Jo, Frankie's best friend and now girlfriend, who is out and proud despite her mother's refusal to accept that she is gay; Phoenix, the new kid in town looking for where he fits in and finding himself instantly attracted to Frankie, while also dealing with his sister's life-threatening illness; and Bella, Nick's love interest who likes him back, but they have yet to act on their feelings and become a couple. Five teens, and one party that will change all their lives forever.

I found this book to be very engaging and I liked the fast pace. There is a lot going on in a short time, as each person has their own personal and family issues to deal with, though the story seems to focus more on Frankie and all her issues and her family's issues. She is not a completely sympathetic or flawless character; sometimes she can be incredibly selfish, needy, or insensitive, which makes her a little more real. This book does take on some serious issues, including sexual assault and addiction, but it is not overly heavy, dark, or depressing and has an ending that is empowering and hopeful.

Highly recommended for all teens who like realistic fiction.
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Thank you NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.


This is a book I was particularly excited about being able to read. To be honest, I didn't know there was a musical until I saw this book and that's probably for the best so that I can't have TOO much bias.

Growing up in the 90s, listening to Alanis Morissette was like that era's soundtrack. The nods to lyrics and Easter eggs are nice little treasures for fans of her music. Best of all, they fit and don't feel shoehorned in as a gimmick.

There were a few tropes I wasn't a fan of, primarily having our Black female protagonist be "the unfaithful bisexual" character to an assumed white partner. This is really two tropes in one, and both leave me feeling icky.

Black characters have been painted as villains and inciting incident characters, or dangerous and preying on "the helpless white woman", for so long that I cringed when I saw where this story thread was going.

Add to that, she’s bisexual and cheats on her female partner and best friend with a male character. This is such a tired trope that the bisexual community still deals with to this day, and in 2022 we should be able to do better.

I'm not saying you can't have cheating bisexual characters or morally gray Black protagonists, but there needs to be more there than a caricature of both lived experiences.

Parts of the pacing felt off, likely from it being adapted from a musical, though I'll say it made for a very quick read.

There were some characters that never really got fleshed out or were rushed but again, this is adapted from a musical so I can give it a little grace.

I do like that things didn't end in a wrapped up package. There is bad in peoples' lives, whether they're interconnected or not, and sometimes that pain lingers and there isn't a clean resolve. I was surprised in a good way.

All that being said, I enjoyed reading it and never walked away hating a character (aside from the person who committed assault, obviously). The book did a good job at letting you see things from everyone's view point even if it was messed up, and trusted the reader to make their own opinion.

I would have loved to see more time dedicated to certain plot threads, especially Jo's that felt like it was literally brushed aside (which actually is ironic considering the theme of her and Frankie's storyline).

All in all I would recommend it, while taking care to prepare a reader for what's happening in the book (which was handled delicately and never felt exploitative). 

Nostalgia for Alanis Morissette's album has me wanting to give this a 5 star rating, but the tropes and odd pacing as well as strange focus choices drags it down to a 4.
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Thank you Net Galley and Abrams Books for this early copy in exchange for my review.

To start, do not have high hopes for this book because this book will not meet them. Instead go into this book wanting to learn a new story. What I liked about this book were the themes and the overall message of the book. I just often found myself losing patience with the story because at times I felt like plot points were sometimes redundant. On the flip side, this book is an amazing extension of the broadway show—completely separate from the Jagged Little Pill Album. 

There is truly an audience for this story but for those wanting the story, I employ you to just go see the play on broadway. It's less of a commitment than trying to get through this eight hour plus book.
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I have been a huge fan of Alanis Morissette since I was young, as well as a follower of Diablo Cody’s films, so even though I haven’t been able to catch the Jagged Little Pill musical, I couldn’t wait to read this book & I am so appreciative that ABRAMS Kids approved my NetGalley request.

Starting off, I did feel like it was the first YA novel I’ve read in a while in which the characters did feel juvenile to me at 31, but, despite that, there are characters & events with which I did relate. Namely, Phoenix’s character was the most like myself. He is responsible beyond his age & wiser than his years. He takes care of his mother & sister in a way that I once had to at a young age. Nick & Bella are also two of the more mature (& older) characters to whose experiences I can relate. Nick is the most complex of the MCs, his internal & external conflicts & his responsibilities, both put on him & voluntary, make me sympathize with the complexities of being a teenager about to head to college & figuring out a moral compass of one's own. Frankie’s relationship with her own morality is gray at a time when young people are still developing their ideals of right & wrong. Personally, that was one of the most poignant aspects of this book; I wouldn’t want to relive those decisions!

I hadn’t previously had the privilege to read an Eric Smith novel, but in Jagged Little Pill, he, Morissette, Cody, & Ballard put themselves in the shoes of teenagers very well, both male & female, straight, gay, & bi, white, latinx, & black. I think the ability to show these representations, motivations, & struggles indicates an insight into the modern life of a young adult beyond the average author. Despite having gone through much of the same strife at the ages of these characters, I was still deeply moved, especially when these characters take more action than I was used to seeing during my time growing up, & it made me proud of fictional characters in a way I don’t remember having felt before.

Jagged Little Pill was definitely a 5 star read for me.

TW: underage drinking, off-page underage sex, off-page date rape, pediatric chronic illness, drug overdose, drug addiction.
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i have my own issues w the actual book of the musical and they really shined through in this novel
at the beginning the author chose to add some things in that were not in the musical so i thought hmm maybe he’s going to rectify the pacing issues from the musical
WRONG
they were actually made worse somehow
for a book with multiple povs they really chose the worst ones and also somehow managed to underdevelop the characters w pov chapters
the book focuses on bella’s storyline but gives her 0 personality or time to breathe as herself
pacing??? romeo and juliet level bad
it’s a book that is quintessentially ya - a smoothie of every single topical issue all addressed with the same surface level nuance
also the whole thing with nick and bella???? weird gross boo tomato tomato throwing tomatoes
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Well! I don’t know how many times I listened Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill album and how many times I got thrown out from karaoke bar for singing “You Ought to know” extra dramatically and ear bleeding-ly! It’s still one of my all time top ten favorite albums!

  When I heard the idea they were making a Broadway musical based on this fabulous album, I couldn’t act quicker to buy tickets! I loved it so much! I’ve seen it twice and I plan to see it again in near future when I have business trip to Big Apple! 

  So you may imagine how happy I’m to read a book based on musical with more detailed character analysis, thought provoking approach to many sensitive issues with pure honesty. 

  As a difference from the play, we read more detailed Phoenix, Nick and Bella’s character developments with more realistic approach and background stories. Especially Bella’s story hurt me a lot. It was so real, heart wrenching and powerful!

 Overall: Eric Smith did a marvelous job by turning this Broadway play into the book which is based on one of the incredible albums at rock history! 

Special thanks to NetGalley and ABRAHAMS Kids for giving me this win chance by sending this digital reviewer copy in exchange my honest thoughts.
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I loved this one. I am so glad to have heard about the musical cause I was able to listen to the soundtrack while taking it all in. The story is one that made me feel a hundred things. I remember the original CD as a kid and I love hearing a story along with it. Worth the read!
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Jagged Little Pill is a novelization of the musical of the same named and is based on the ground-breaking 90s album by Alanis Morissette. The novel follows 5 teens and their intersecting lives. When events of a party change their lives forever, they begin to understand that you live, you learn. Told from different perspectives, it's a book that sees the characters as they change themselves, each other, their families, and their community in the process.
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Thank you for this ARC!  While YA is not my favorite genre, this would be a great book for teenagers!  The stories are relevant and timely.  They teach younger people about empathy, friendship and family relationships.  The idea of basing a book on a musical/album is very interesting.  I may consider using parts of this book in my high school advisory class.
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Thank you to #netgalley for the advanced reader copy.

The only reason I finished this was because it was an advanced copy and I felt obligated to so that I could review it. I love Alanis' music and I have heard great things about the Broadway musical, so I was looking forward to this read. I was very disappointed. It felt like one after-school special/PSA after another. The main storyline wasn't even one of the main characters, but the main characters made it their story (ick). It felt like it was trying too hard to include every single YA trope and lesson. 2 stars, because it's still not the worst thing I've read so far this year.
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This book is edgy and angsty but really good. I haven't seen the musical but I like Atlantis Morissette's music. I think this will appeal to adults and teens alike because the older generation knows the music references.

Thanks NetGalley for this ARC!
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I had very high hopes for this book.  I've never seen the Broadway show, but I still anticipated it to be edgy and cynical and entertaining.  

Instead, I thought it was dull and scattered and... dare I say, basic.  I hate labeling something that's associated with Alana Morisette as basic, but there it is: this book is basic.  

If you are going to have the focus of the book be on this one party and the ensuing aftermath, give us more of the poor girl whose life has been turned upside down by it!  I felt like I was reading two different books: the Jo and Frankie love story, and then the Bella story.   And I wanted more of Bella's story; she was such a one note character.  

And the writing was pretty basic, too.  Show, don't tell.  You're not giving young adults enough credit here.  They can make inferences.
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Didn't see the musical but loved the album.  Great background stories.  Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book
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This is my first book adaptation of a musical that I’ve read. As someone who loves musicals, this was a musical that had gone under my radar somehow but after reading this book, I’m really interested in listening to the music to hear how it works with Alanis’s songs, especially as I grew up with her music. 

The story itself was one I enjoyed. It was relevant to today and I liked that it didn’t just gloss over the hard subjects covered in the storyline. Even when someone tried to make amends, it wasn’t just a quick “okay everything is better now.” It felt more real and like seeing a slice of life into the small town. 

I think teenagers and adults will enjoy this book, and it can be used to open up the lines of communication about subjects that parents may not know how to address or talk about with their kids. It’s not easy to have those conversations, but as the book teaches us, we don’t always know what’s going on with someone, and we may have more in common than we think.
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Jagged Little Pill was the first CD I ever bought and I'm surprised I didn't wear it out playing it so much on my discman in 6th grade.  Last summer I finally got the chance to see Alanis live on her Jagged Little Pill Anniversary tour.  I've yet to see the broadway show, so when I saw there was a novel based on the musical, I had to read it.

I went in to reading this book having 0 idea about what the musical plot was - just very much so knowing the album. (There were a few easter eggs of lyrics here and there, I noticed.)  Turns out it is about a family - Frankie is adopted and her brother Nick and their parents as well as some of the kids that they go to school with.

Each of them is dealing with their own struggles and trying to overcome them in a town in Connecticut that likes to keep all their troubles secret.  Some of them end up coming to light and the story details how they all deal with them and help each other deal with them.

This was a pretty quick read but I really enjoyed it and am hoping all the more that I'll get a chance to see the musical in the near future!

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.
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Wow, I’m not old! You’re old. Talk about a blast from the past. Being the 90’s teen that I was, I picked this based on the cover, the title and obviously Alanis. For anyone that was a teen girl in the 90’s, just the words “Jagged Little Pill” feels Ike the symbol of that teen angst. This is a quick read that makes me wish I could go see the broadway play now! 

Slight trigger warning…
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I was first interested in reading this book because Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette is one of my favorite albums of all time. I enjoyed the recognition of some of her lyrics throughout the book, and other fans of Alanis may feel the same. The book intertwines the lives of several friends and how what they do and say effects each other. This includes the aftermath of a sexual assualt. Everyone has their own struggles, but most of them are mature and find time to defend each other, which I think is what every high school kid wants in their life.
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I loved The album Jagged Little Pill when it came out, it was THE album, so when I heard a Broadway show was opening, I was very excited. And then Covid happened so me seeing it on Broadway hasn’t happened… yet!
When I saw there was a novelization available, I was very intrigued. This was a quick read and full of all of the angst I would expect from something associated with Alanis. There are some good storylines and some great topics discussed. 
I’m sure once I am able to see the show, the 2 things will blend wonderfully!
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read in exchange for my honest opinion.
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What an enjoyable read! I love Alanis Morisette and have been dying to see the show on Broadway. Although a book can’t really compete with a musical performance, this definitely was a good alternative to the show… guess I’ll need to get tickets to the show now! While it deals with some mature themes, this book could be good for some of my HS students.
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