Jenny James Is Not a Disaster

A Novel

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Pub Date Jul 09 2024 | Archive Date Aug 09 2024

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There's having a bad day . . . and then there's having a Very Bad Day.

Thirty-something single mum Jenny James is used to the typical run-in-your-tights, milk-turned-sour, break-a-nail bad kind of day. Attitude from her teenage son? Count on it. Car problems? To be expected. Never quite enough money for monthly expenses? Guaranteed.

And then arrives the Very Bad Day--when Jenny finds out her dull but reliable office job is in jeopardy, her car totally and completely breaks down, and she arrives home (on foot) just in time to see her modest-but-cozy cottage sliding off a cliff into the sea. Jenny's life--not to mention her home--has reached its ultimate low point.

Estranged from her parents since she became pregnant at age eighteen and set out on her own, Jenny has nowhere to turn when she and her son, Charlie, find themselves without a place to live. Her neighbor, the reclusive but attractive Luke who lives alone with his dog in a surprisingly homey RV, opens up his camper--and his vagabond lifestyle--to Jenny and her son.

As the unlikely threesome--four including the dog--hit the road, Jenny finds herself experiencing a new sense of freedom as she reflects on who she was, who she is, and who she could become. Maybe when you fall, you actually find the best way to move forward.

There's having a bad day . . . and then there's having a Very Bad Day.

Thirty-something single mum Jenny James is used to the typical run-in-your-tights, milk-turned-sour, break-a-nail bad kind of...

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ISBN 9781400247868
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Featured Reviews

Who among us hasn't dreamed, at one time, of dropping everything and embarking on a journey? Jenny James did just that—with a little nudge from Mother Nature—and found herself amid a life-changing journey. "Jenny James Is Not a Disaster" by Debbie Johnson follows a 36-year-old struggling single mom who discovers happiness and joy in an unexpected place.

Jenny James is not a disaster, even though her life may have been. After her cottage on the Norfolk coast fell off a cliff, and she lost her job in the same week, Jane is at a crossroads. It's just her and her 18-year-old son - sadly, she is estranged from her family - and she has to decide what to do with her life. When her handsome nomadic neighbor, Luke, who lives in a camper van with his dachshund, Betty, offers them a road trip around England, she accepts. As they frolic around England, she is forced to take a hard look at her life and past choices, stop and smell the roses, and come to terms with her past.

I enjoyed the book very much. It was a less light read than I thought it would be, which is not a bad thing, and full of inspiring life lessons. I loved the humor and banter between the characters, the growing relationships between them, the sharing of backstories that made them close their hearts to love, and the way the heroine reinvented herself. I also loved the descriptions of the various historical sites. I could smell the roses, so to speak, and envision those vivid scenes.

I have to say that the way Jenny went on a trip with someone who was a perfect stranger until then made me raise a brow at first. I also thought that being estranged for about 18 years from her family was unreasonable, as well as her unwillingness to share her story with her son. I loved the resolution of the heroine's issues, though, and the ending warmed my heart. Some scenes were touching, causing me to shed a tear.

The book highlights the complicated relationships between parents and children, and it's done with humor and heartfelt insights. I loved the message that "home is wherever you are happy." The author paints a compelling story of a journey of happiness, self-discovery, and individual pride. With themes of friendship, trust, love, letting go of the past, and self-discovery, the author has woven a tale that I enjoyed reading. The gentle budding romance added to the enjoyment. Highly recommended!

* I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Debbie Johnson's latest novel, Jenny James Is Not a Disaster, is a heartwarming and relatable story about a single mother who finds herself at an unexpected crossroads. Jenny, a thirty-something single mom, is used to her fair share of bad days. But when her job, car, and home are all lost in one fell swoop, she's forced to face her life's trajectory and what she wants from it. Estranged from her parents and with nowhere else to turn, Jenny and her son, Charlie, find refuge in the camper of their reclusive neighbor, Luke. As the unlikely trio hit the road, Jenny begins to reflect on her past, present, and future. Along the way, Jenny learns to embrace the unexpected, finding both challenges and opportunities in her new nomadic lifestyle. She reconnects with her son, explores her own passions, and discovers a newfound sense of freedom. Johnson's writing is honest and humorous, capturing the complexities of Jenny's character and the challenges she faces. The supporting cast of characters is equally well-developed, each with their own unique story and impact on Jenny's journey. Jenny James Is Not a Disaster is a well-crafted and thought-provoking novel about resilience, self-discovery, and the power of human connection. It's a story that will resonate with readers of all ages and walks of life, reminding us that even in the face of adversity, we have the power to create a fulfilling and meaningful life.

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Thank you Netgalley and Harper Muse Publishing for an eARC ♥️😍

Get ready to join Jenny on a wild ride! Her life is unraveling faster than a Norfolk coastal cliffside (yep, that actually happens!). But instead of wallowing in misery, she grabs her son Charlie and their adventurous neighbor Luke (plus his trusty sidekick Betty the dachshund) and hits the road.

As they explore England's hidden gems, Jenny faces her past head-on and starts to piece together a new future. You'll laugh at the witty banter, nod your head to the relatable struggles, and maybe even tear up a bit as Jenny confronts her fears and learns to let go.

This book is like a cozy British road trip in words - you'll feel like you're cruising along with the gang, sipping tea and snacking on scones (OK, maybe not, but you'll wish you were!). It's a heartwarming reminder that life's ups and downs can lead to unexpected adventures and new beginnings. So grab a cuppa, settle in, and join Jenny on her journey to rediscovery!

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Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Collins Focus for the ARC of this book. All opinions in this review are my own.

I loved this book so much that I almost devoured it in one sitting. The characters were well developed and easy to root for and the writing was beautiful as well.

After a series of crazy disasters, Jenny, a 30 something single mom to a teenager, finds herself on a cross country motor home trip with her neighbor who she barely know. When Jenny, her son, Charlie and Luke travel she learns a lot about herself and what she wants in life and she forges a beautiful relationship with Luke, despite his complicated history. She also reunites with her estranged family. It's a wonderful read and I highly recommend it. Thanks for the opportunity to review it!

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Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Muse for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book.

Loved this! It was so funny, yet it also made me tear up, it was a feel good story even with all the tragic elements. The characters were fantastic. The very slow burn between Jenny and Luke was just right. And if all of these places are real, you could actually use it as a travel guide. Loved the mention of Henry Cavill - he is, indeed, a god among men.

This is my first time reading this author and now I have to check out her backlist. Highly recommend!

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What a cracker of a book! It can fit into so many categories... travel guide, self help book, romance novel, blog, and best of all... a warmhearted humourous tale.
I felt for the character in so many ways and think that she has been through so much in this book, I'm happy that she is finding her joy and living for herself.
The other characters bring it to life and add in moments that really make a reader smile. Betty and Frank certainly steal the show on many occasions.
My absolute favourite part of the book has to be the humour and the banter. Hilarious! I love the double act that Jenny and Charlie have and in fact love most of Jenny's dialogue.
While I have read a few books by this author and given them 5 stars for their ingenuity and heartfelt words, this one is a definite 5 star and buying to keep on the shelf.
Thanks so much to Netgalley and the author and publisher for a temporary copy in exchange for an honest review.

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5 star read! It checked so many boxes- the perfect book to grab off your shelf when you’re not sure what you’re in the mood to read. Very enjoyable, and I was over the moon to have a chance to read it. Huge thank you to NetGalley and Harper Muse for the advanced copy. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Publication date July 9, 2024.

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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC.

Jenny is a single mother of an eighteen-year-old son working in a carpet store. Her life up until now has been quiet, mundane, and relatively uneventful - until the worst week of her life - and she watches her house slide into the ocean. It doesn’t help that her ancient car doesn’t start, her son is moving on to university, and her job is made redundant. What happens next for her is every kind of unknown, but sometimes the beauty of the unknown is what you can find there.

This is my favorite adult book I’ve read this year. I absolutely loved this story and its characters - Jenny, her son Charlie, and Luke, the unassuming, motorhome-living neighbor - and it just lifted me up. The banter is dynamite, and the whole thing is so, so funny while still dealing with unbelievably heavy issues; it is sort of an Eat, Pray, Love for real people. The lower-middle class struggle is real and relatable, especially the fact that one second you are hanging on, the other you are without any support system at all. This book is about finding yourself, forgiving yourself, dealing with and recovering from unimaginable grief, and trusting people to take care of you. I loved this book - I have already recommended it to anyone who will listen!

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Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Muse for allowing me to read an ARC of Jenny James Is Not a Disaster by Debbie Johnson, in exchange for my honest review.

I absolutely adored this book! I loved all of the characters, the witty banter, the descriptions, everything! I related to Jenny in that, as mothers, we are learning on the fly. We don't always have the answers, and (shhh) we are not always right. I admired her for stepping back and thinking from the other person's perspective.

This book was wonderful from start to finish, and I definitely recommend it to others.

I look forward to reading more by Debbie Johnson.

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I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley with the understanding I would share a review of the book.

You can tell a lot about a person by how they handle bad times, even disasters. The main character of this book, Jenny James, responds to a series of ‘unfortunate’ events mostly with humor. I doubt I would do the same in her place. It is difficult to say any more about this book without revealing too much. I found the characters and situations compelling and throughly enjoyed reading it.

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Jenny James is not a Disaster is a story that touches multiple fiction genres: a romantic comedy, English RV travel guide, a Blog and raising a teenager. After more than one life altering disasters leave Jenny and her 18-year old son, Charlie homeless, they and recent friend, Luke, embark on a RV trip through England. Along the way, Jenny reunites with her estranged family and Luke starts making peace with his tragic path. The book is a page-turner and filled with great dialogue. I enjoyed every word and every page! Thank you to NetGalley and HarperMuse for an early read in exchange for a fair review.

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Have you ever had one of those days? Be honest, we've all been there. Hopefully just not quite as completely as Jenny James.

The author does a marvelous job of developing the characters. I fell in love with Jenny and her son and was rooting for them throughout the book. As Jenny struggles to make ends meet and be a good mum to a teenage boy, you'll be right there offering her a glass of wine at the end of her day. Humble and charming, Jenny's can-do attitude serves her well but when the unthinkable happens... well, you just have to read the book to find out. You'll enjoy the highs and lows of life's unplanned challenges and the joys and anxieties Jenny faces as she deals with her past decisions, tries to slog through her present predicaments, and, just possibly, finds a spark of hope as she examines her future.

I read this book in one sitting (a luxury I don't often have) and enjoyed every minute of it. I hope Debbie Johnson will allow us to go along on many more adventures with the remarkable Jenny "not a disaster" James because I can't wait to read more.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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I loved this delightfully sweet but comical coming of age look at Jenny James as she navigates through yet another tough time in her life.

In the past, Jenny had been estranged from her parents when she became pregnant at the age of 18. It was a tough time in her life, especially since the baby's father left her, but she got through it.

Fast forward to now, Jenny has her wonderful 18 year old son, Charlie, living with her. She has just recently met her fairly new but reclusive, attractive neighbor, Luke, who lives next door in a very nice RV campervan.

As if she is living in a nightmare, she loses her job, her car is dead, and she walks home just as her cute cliffside cottage literally slides into the sea during a rainstorm, all in one terrible day!

Luke is there and helps them dry off and warm up. Then, he ends up offering them a place to stay in his RV campervan with him and his cute dachshund Betty, who happily greets them until they can figure things out.

Luke is a guy who usually never stays in one place for too long as he likes to travel. He eventually offers them to travel around with him since they now have literally nothing else to do, at least until Charlie leaves for college.

They decide to travel around and have a good time. I loved that Jenny named the campervan, "Joy!"

To make their trip fun, they decide to put a bunch of destination ideas into a hat to draw from. They travel all over England, seeing all kinds of great places, hiking to remote beautiful areas, waterfalls, seeing stone circles, villages, amusement parks, etc.

And then, Charlie wants to know about what the past...with his grandparents...can they go see them?

Jenny not only finds herself for the first time but finds the best way to move forward in her life and to experience joy!

I loved this book, it was filled with a lot of fun and adventure and I recommend it!

I would like to thank #NetGalley and HarperCollins Focus for a complimentary copy of an ARC of this book. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Debbie Johnson's "Jenny James Is Not a Disaster" is a fun read that takes you through what many would consider if it happened to you: a rollercoaster of loss, discovery, and self-realization. This story captures the essence of resilience and shifting priorities when life throws unexpected challenges your way. (no matter how outrageous the challenges maybe)

Plot Summary:

The story revolves around Jenny James, a woman who faces significant losses that lead her to reassess her life's priorities. With the help of a stranger, Jenny embarks on a new adventure that allows her to explore a long-held secret dream, brings about reconciliation, and deepens her understanding of herself and others.


The witty and endearing protagonist, Jenny James, stands out with her sharp sayings and quirky expressions. Her internal conflicts and resilience add depth to her character, making her relatable and lovable.

Jenny James may sometimes feel like a disaster, but her story is one of resilience, joy, and self-acceptance.

The Author:
Debbie Johnson's writing in this book is engaging and infused with a lighthearted flair that makes the book a joy to read. Her ability to balance humor with heartfelt moments kept me hooked from start to finish. However, one minor drawback is the somewhat unrealistic portrayal of blog writing and follower counts, which could have been more grounded. (as a blog writer myself)

I am so impressed with Johnson's writing that I've already added many of her other books to my wishlist for future reading.

For readers who enjoy lighthearted yet meaningful fiction, I recommend checking out Sophie Kinsella's works. I loved her book "My Not So Perfect Life." Much like Debbie Johnson's, her novels feature relatable heroines, humorous situations, and a blend of romance and personal growth that seem similar to "Jenny James Is Not a Disaster."

Thank you, NetGalley, for the early read.

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Great Read!!! A positive story after disaster hits. Jenny James is a delight. With help from the neighbor that lives in a motor home Jenny is on a adventure along with her 18 year old son.

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What a delight. I loved this book so much, it made me laugh and it certainly had me in tears on more than one occasion. As a mother of boys, I loved the relationship between Jenny and Charlie 💙 Just when you think nothing else can go wrong…
You’re in for a treat with this one- 5 stars from me

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I absolutely loved this book. While it's not out until July 9th, this is one of those books with an endearing lead character. Jenny James may not be a disaster, but her life turned upside down overnight. Her house falls down a cliff (literally) and it takes everything from her life so far along with it. When her neighbor (who saves her from going over the cliff after cherished photos of her son) invites her to travel with him for a few weeks to see if the "camper life" is for her, she starts a blog about her travels along with her new friend Luke and her son Charlie.

I read this book over a weekend, and I loved the character that Debbie Johnson has created. She has her flaws as we all do, but you can't help but root for her to find her way in her new life.

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