Review: The 9:09 Project

It has been two years since his mom’s death, and Jamison, his dad, and his younger sister seem to be coping, but they’ve been dealing with their loss separately and in different ways. When Jamison has to be reminded of his mother’s birthday, on the day of her birthday, he worries that his memory of her is slipping away, and he is forced to reckon with the passing of time. To help make sense of it, he picks up his camera—the Nikon his mother gave him a few years back.

Jamison begins to take photos of ordinary people on the street, at the same time and place each night. As he focuses his lens on the random people who cross his path, Jamison begins to see the world in a deeper way. His endeavor turns into a school project, and then into something more. Along with his new outlook, Jamison forges new and unexpected friendships at school. But more importantly, he’s able to revive the memory of his mother, and to connect with his father and younger sister once again.

This book punched me in the gut near the end, and I love it for that. It covers the process of grieving within a family, how that can affect relationships with one another and those around them, and learning how to remember those we’ve lost so that we don’t forget them.

Jamison is pretty much a loner after his mother’s death, as he let his grief consume him and he pulled away from old friends. He does strike a companionship with a fellow lunchmate, Seth, and they bond over their annoyance of a group of boneheaded guys that sit near them. But that’s it for the most part. Jamison has a ritual of going to a specific street corner every night and taking pictures at 9:09pm of whoever passes by (with permission of course), but with this collection of photos over the past two years, he decides to finally do something with them.

The photography project that Jamison starts was really inspiring. I love photography myself, so the entire time that I was reading this and his posts on his website, I kept thinking, “I should get back out there and restart my old photography blog.” His had some more meaning though, as it was a project for himself to honor his mom with, and I loved that. Throughout the story we learn how close Jamison was with his mom and how her death really affected him. He has a condition, synesthesia, where his thought process is a bit different than others because of the colors and shapes that go through his brain, and his mom had this too, so she helped him to learn about it and understand it.

Then there’s his frenemy relationship with the new girl, A.K., that eventually leads to feelings between the two. A.K. has an understanding of the grief Jamison is going through, which begins to bring them closer to one another. She’s also a writer, which I loved on top of having a main character who’s a photographer, and the banter/discussions with Jamison and A.K. in their AP Language class were fun to read. I loved how their relationship progressed and how they connected to one another.

I could really go on and on about this one, but I also don’t want to give anything away. It was such a good book that did move me to tears at one point, and it was one of those books that you think about when you’re not reading it. What made it even better was finding out that the author, Mark H. Parsons, is the husband of one of my favorite authors, Wendelin Van Draanen. Icing on the cake, y’all. 

Anyway, this book is fantastic in so many ways. I was never bored with it, and I highly recommend it.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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