Back in high school Jessica was awkward, lonely, bullied, helpless and desperate
Many years have passed since then - she’s now successful, powerful, rich, has an awesome network of friends and an amazing pack. Of course she has some old scores to settle and is perfectly willing to give old crush Bobby Ray Smith the run around.
I love Jessica. And I would love this entire book to be the story of her awesome life. Jessica was an orphan and grew up almost friendless, ostracised and severely bullied. Her family lost through a plague that hit so many were-wild dogs (and I like that the world building includes elements like that - that a disease can his one population and what that does to their culture and survival). We then have the gap to adulthood
Jessica is wealthy, successful, snarky and she has a pack. And while I am a complete and utter cat person and would never ever ever have a dog, I absolutely love the wild dog pack. I love how they have fun. I love how they rely on each other. I love how they constantly support each other. I love their bonds, I love their karaoke, I love their family and how important it is to them. I love how they support other lost orphans and work closely with them to help them feel belonging and connected.
I just want the story of Jessica. I want the story of her and her four closest friends. I want their fun, I want their complete lack of embarrassment over everything (they’re not wolves - they’re dogs. And since when do dogs care about being silly?)
And I want the story of her claiming her power; not just wealth and success but how she built her pack and staked out territory and her pack together. There’s some excellent, awesome scenes where this wild dog pack showed just how much they are contenders and excellently take down the packs who look down on them.
Jessica is also a Black woman. She is completely lacking in stereotypes or tropes or other elements that so often make us cringe when we see a Blackety-Black portrayals. On the downside I reached page 163 and read “get my Black, Wild-dog ass out of there” and said “wait, she’s Black”? Which is almost a little odd because one of her pack is Asian and that’s very clear; we also have another Japanese wild dog who visits and is a major business partner which is very overt.
It’s going to sound odd but I kind of like that Sassy was one of the girls who bullied Jessica. Because it’s easy to have a cruel bully be a complete monster we’re meant to hate. It’s harder to see that bullies can be people we like and appreciate - but that doesn’t change the terrible, cruel things they do to other people. I like that it challenges the narrative that because someone is nice/friendly/fun with you doesn’t mean they are to everyone. And I like that Jessica is still extremely not happy with her.