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Review: If Jack’s In Love, Stephen Wetta

By no fault of his own, twelve-year-old Jack is one of the most ostracized boys in town, and all because of his last name. The Witcher family are considered white trash, and even though Jack is smart, fair, and honest, he is tarred by the same brush that affects all his family. It’s harder for sensitive Jack, who has to deal with all of the follies of adolescent life at the same time he’s shunned by the people who he longs to be friends with. The fact that his brother is suspected of murder doesn’t help. How can Jack reconcile his feelings for his family with his longing to be accepted for once in his short life?

If Jack’s in Love may be the first Amy Einhorn book that I didn’t outright fall in love with myself. Not that it’s a bad book, really; it was fine, and I enjoyed reading it, but it wasn’t that compelling or earth-shaking for me. I was easily able to put it down and come back to it later, and as I read it a while before I wrote this review, parts of it have faded quickly from my mind, so I’m afraid I didn’t find it all that memorable, either.

But there were certainly parts that I did enjoy – for instance, I liked Jack’s character, although the rest of them I was happy to take or leave, and I found the perspective of his struggle to be really interesting. He’s on the inside of a classic “white trash” family, but he sympathizes with both them, especially his mother, and the family whose son has disappeared. It’s seeing two halves of the coin which draws me in to books like this, and which also makes me a little more disappointed that I didn’t find myself loving it.

The book is set in the American south in the 60’s and 70’s, so there are also hints of the racial divide; for instance, Jack’s father is friends with a black man who lives in a certain district, and Jack’s older Jewish friend Gladstein lives in the same place. But that’s about the extent of these tensions; Jack’s love for Myra, the murdered boy’s younger sister, dominates most of the book. This is the part where the book really fell down for me; I didn’t like their romance much at all, and I didn’t believe in them as a couple no matter how young. There were too many barriers, and while a good book would be all about knocking those down, I wasn’t feeling it here.

Anyway, many others have enjoyed this book considerably more than I have; visit the Book Blogger Search Engine for many more reviews. While If Jack’s in Love had its moments, I ultimately found it to be disappointing; regardless, I’ll be looking out for Wetta’s further work as he has a lot of potential.

I purchased this book.

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2 comments to Review: If Jack’s In Love, Stephen Wetta

  • I have this book for review, but some of the tepid reviews have made me put it off. I do really love Amy Einhorn books, and have had great success with them in the past, but something about this one is not calling to me right at the moment. I did really appreciate your honest and thoughtful review though. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  • I liked this one more than you did. I wanted to know more about Mr. Gladstein!