by Jennifer Jabaley
When Willow Grey was nine, her mom dropped the bomb of ultimate betrayal: they would be moving from their small town in Georgia to glitzy Las Vegas. Willow was devastated to have to leave her best friend, Max, behind. So she decided to take control of the situation: she told Max to relax, to let his eyelids droop and then she said: "Max Montgomery, for as long as we live, you and I will be best friends..."
Now, at seventeen, Willow and her mom move back to their hometown and Willow is determined to pick up where she and Max left off. But even though he's still her best friend, his heart now belongs to someone else—and Willow realizes that what she feels for him is so much more than just friendship. For the second time in her life, Willow finds herself using hypnosis to get what she wants. But what starts off as a harmless experiment soon spirals into chaos and Willow is forced to wonder: Is the heart really something you can control—with mind control? (description from author's website)
I've always been both fascinated and terrified by hypnotism. It's supposed to have helped a lot of people with really serious issues (I'd love a subliminal message somedays that NO, I do not need to eat that cupcake...) but when I think about hypnotism, what usually jumps right into my head first is those shows where people end up making total fools of themselves and I just can't even imagine volunteering to participate in something like that!
Imagine my delight when I started reading Crush Control and I realized that this book actually contains both of those exact types of hypnotism! Willow's mother has run a Vegas hypnotism show for nine years and so when they move back home to Georgia, Willow quickly gets talked into doing a "show" for the kids from school. This insta-hit (with the "funny" style hypnosis where people end up doing stupid things) leads to several of Willow's new friends to help them with various problems through hypnosis.
One of Willow's new friends is Mia, the Queen Bee of their school. Captain of the Cheer Squad, Mia's expected to do more and more intricate stunts. When her fear of heights overwhelms her, she turns to Willow for help. Willow, though reluctant, helps Mia to push past her fears. Having figured out what Willow had done for Mia, Quinton, a very hot guy from school asks Willow for help with sleepwalking issues. Again, Mia's not really sure if she should try to help. Her mother was the real hypnotist, after all, and has only just moved into the realm of therapeutic hypnosis, but Willow caves and studies her mom's books to know what she's doing.
Unable to help herself and totally frustrated with her unrequited feelings for her best friend, Max, Willow secretly hypnotizes Quinton to not only stop sleepwalking, but also become her boyfriend. Her uber-sensitive, caring, treat her like the goddess she is...boyfriend. Which, of course, totally backfires and leads to all kinds of high-jinks and worsening situations with Max, who not only doesn't like her relationship with Quinton, but also keeps telling her she shouldn't be doing any hypnosis.
Willow's voice (often in internal dialogue mode) sparkles throughout this funny and touching book. Even as she is totally unsure of herself, she works to make things work, to sound at least reasonably intelligent, and to keep from hurting anyone's feelings. She was a character that I totally got. Her pining for Max felt so realistic...I can remember having a crush just like that when I was younger!
The difficulties that Willow had with Quinton made me laugh out loud, even as I was cringing in embarrassment right alongside Willow. All girls want a little romance, but too much easily becomes smothering and poor, hypnotized Quinton went even a step beyond that to crazy!
While dealing with her new friends at school, Willow is also dealing with trying to reconcile her family. When they moved to Vegas nine years before, it was because Willow's mother and grandmother had a huge fight. Now, Willow's grandfather has had a stroke and they've come home to be closer to their family, but her mother and grandmother still can't get along. Once again, I totally related to Willow's struggle to please every member of her family while still wanting everyone to just get along and accept one another.
Touching and funny, poignant and thought-provoking, Jabaley's written a real winner. I can't wait now to go back and read her other novel, Lipstick Apology.
Thanks to Jennifer Jabaley's publisher, I am lucky enough to give away one copy of Crush Control! If you think you'd like to read it, please leave a comment with your name, email address, and a comment about hypnotism before Fri, July 8th. On Saturday, July 9th, I will randomly choose one winner and contact them to get their mailing address (limited to US/Canada per the publisher - sorry!).
Full disclosure: Review copy received from publisher for blog tour