- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
In Wetta's debut novel, Jack is a Witcher, son of a sometime mechanic, sometime unemployed hillbilly father and a poor-but-respectable mother. The Witchers are trash, publicly labeled as such. Their house, with a maybe-useful commode in the mostly dirt yard, scars El Dorado Hills, a 1967 Virginia suburb where good folks like the Coghills, Joyners and Kellners worry about Vietnam and integration and wish the Witchers elsewhere. But soon-to-be-13 Jack loves Myra Joyner, and that's a problem. It happens too that Jack's older brother, long-haired, pot-smoking Stanley, hates Myra's bother, Duke University–bound Gaylord Joyner, recent usurper of good girl Courtney Blankenship's affections. Wetta's narrative weaves Jack's pursuit of Myra around Stan's tendency to bloody the nose of anyone who offers a slight, real or imagined, a trait inherited from Witcher senior. Jack's ally in his quest is another outsider, Moses Gladstein, a Jewish jeweler from New Jersey. Myra likes Jack, primarily because Jack is the school's smartest kid, and Stan has found a new love in Anya, hippie daughter of the Taylors, rich folk new in the neighborhood. The characters are realistic, especially the Witchers, even Stan, whose thin-skinned "Don't tread on me" attitude ranges beyond the borders of sanity. Witcher-snobs are drawn with less intensity, although the white-bread image of a newly enrolled Klansman named Pudding hits the mark. Gaylord goes missing, Stan is accused and the Witchers are shunned and harassed. Jack puzzles through the story, but the dichotomy between his intellectual superiority and pubescent emotional behavior sometimes seems off-kilter. Jack understands that "Families live on loyalty more than love..." It's the costs of loyalty that causes him pain.
In the vein ofTo Kill a Mockingbird,but about class rather than race, and lacking a bit of its righteous moral clarity.
Posted December 10, 2013
Posted December 10, 2013
A brown haired boy. <e> not a nice one<e> nor rich and famous<e> just an eleven year old boy<e> who is in my class. I think im in love. <e>i ask him out, tell him my secret. <e>a week passes, and then it happens. <e>he goes and breaks my heart.<e>burning it to nothing. Leaveing no pity. For me to collect.<e>I see him now, a month later.<e>with some know it all girl.<e> i think im not in love anymore.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 11, 2012
Amy Einhorn Books excels at finding debut novelists with unique voices- Eleanor Brown's The Weird Sisters, Alex George's The Good American and most famously, Kathryn Stockett's The Help. All of these books draw the reader into another world with strong characters and writing.
Add to that list Stephen Wetta with his debut novel If Jack's In Love. Set in a Virginia suburb in 1967, Jack Witcher is a twelve-year-old boy with a gifted intellect and a difficult home life. His mother is a kind woman burdened with a husband who cannot hold a job, fights with the neighbors and holds his intelligent son in disdain. Jack's older brother Stan follows in their father's violent footsteps, drinking, smoking pot, fighting and getting in trouble with the law. Needless to say, the Witcher family is not a popular one in the neighborhood.
Jack has a crush on beautiful Myra who responds to Jack's sweetness. But when Myra's brother, the high school football hero, goes missing, Stan is the prime suspect after having a fight with the boy. Once again, Jack's family has hurt him.
Mr. Gladstein is the owner of a local jewelry store and Jack's only friend. The man tries to help Jack woo Myra, and he is one of the few people in town who show Jack's plain mother any type of kindness or interest. Jack's father comes up with a plan to rob Mr. Gladstein, and Jack must thwart the plot without his father finding out.
Jack is a wonderful character, and watching him try to survive and thrive in a home where his intellect is stifled and mocked is difficult. His poor beaten-down mother does her best, but she is no match for her physically powerful husband and other son.
The book grabs you from the opening line:
"I'll never know for sure whether I'd have fought my brother or not. Maybe I might have killed him. The day came and I made the decision. But I will never know."
How can you resist reading on?
The author's take on the complexities of love and family intrigued me. Jack's mom explains why she married his dad this way:
"I knew he'd never get it in his head he was too good for me. He has an inferiority complex a mile wide. Most people can't see that, but I saw it right away." Jack "went to (his) room and meditated on the mysteries of women, deeper that all the philosophies of humankind put together."
On families, Jack thinks:
"Families live on loyalty more than love, and it wasn't fear that made me keep my mouth shut. I could never forget that Stan bled for me. And yet I was terrified of him."
If Jack's In Love is a book written for adults, but there is much here for teens to appreciate. Jack is an outsider, torn between his love for his mother, and yes even his father and brother, and his desire to have a different, better life. His feelings are no doubt shared by many adolescents, and this book would be a great one for high school English classes.
Posted June 5, 2012
Wetta has written that rare novel that can truly be called a “crossover,” in the sense that it speaks to adults just as it speaks to teens. It raises questions that are not really resolved, and speaks to the nature of fiction itself. If we change just one thing in one’s life, does that make all the rest a fiction? Jack presents us with two alternate histories: one in which his brother is transgresser, and one in which his brother is transgressed upon. In the first history, his father is a rough and a cad, while in the second, he is vulnerable yet protective of his sons. The fact that alternative histories are presented tells us something about Jack’s ambivalence, though one of the histories lay on the cutting room floor at the end of the novel. I remember those days of childhood when one begins to perceive the outlines of “truth;” when another person’s truth is not precisely as we ourselves have observed it to be. We begin to suspect those others; we begin to suspect ourselves. This is a book, I guess, about love. But it seems more a book about a family (“Families live on loyalty more than love…”), or perhaps just a young boy: a young boy just discerning the truth about people, about his family, about his neighborhood, about black people and Jewish people, about policemen and villains. It is a story of a stiff-spined boy who grew into a stiff-spined man. He claims to have had a brother and father who taught him forgiveness could be weakness. He was saved by his mother, a kind woman, though she recognized some failing in him: “You’ll be a lot harder than your father or brother ever were. You’ll never do anything wrong, not you. But my God you’re going to be hard.” Jack may have thought that was a good thing—a carapace of steel should save him from the vagaries of love and loyalty. Jack Witcher begins his story when he is thirteen and “already tragic.” Exceptionally imaginative, he has a hard time sorting truth from fiction, and creates an alternate universe in which the haunting experience of finding a corpse in the woods merges with the perfectly normal wish for an older brother to get his come-uppance and his parents’ divorce to be explained. “Maybe I might have killed him.” Jack is uncertain exactly how to deal with an unruly older brother, but one thing is clear. He’ll create a story in which that brother is dealt with severely. How much is truth and how much is fiction? That is where we will differ. This may be a good book to carry on the family vacation this summer. It has clever observances that make us laugh out loud, it raises social issues, and it plays with our sense of reality. It might make for good conversation around the campfire, on the lake, or at the dinner table.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 13, 2011
I loved this book. Jack will win your heart and so will the writing. The Publisher's Weekly review got it exactly right. I found myself laughing out loud yet was also very moved by Jack's story. It's sweet, deep, and funny.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 12, 2011
Excellent read! It is disturbing, sweet, and very funny in parts. The story is a great cautionary tale and it really allows the reader to feel the other side of being shunned and bullied. My heart ached for both Jack and his family. I loved that it was set in the 60's. I couldn't help but wonder how things would be different if these events unfolded today. Most definitely worth reading!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 12, 2011
The reader will feel the heart of Jack, the twelve year old protagonist, as the sickening events implicating his only brother in the death of a neighbor become inescapable. Are these things circumstantial and there is still room for the hope of some other possibility? Is Jack himself in danger as he slowly becomes unglued? The author builds a creepy suspense, and the reader looks for the people in Jack's life on whom he can really count. Because even though Jack is so intelligent and perceptive and street wise to some extent, he is only a boy.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 13, 2011
Jack, the main character, guides the reader through this thought-provoking novel. He is sincerely sweet and only 12 years old. He thinks he is in love with Myra, a girl whose brother disappears-Jack's brother is the main suspect. Jack doesn't really know what to make of this. He handles it in a mature way for a 12 year old. No one in their small town has a particularly high opinion of Jack's family as it is, making it all the harder on Jack.
This novel is fast-paced, the events are surprising and enlightening. Written in a difficult time-the 1960's-this novel is intriguing and touches on quite a few hard subjects. The ending is bittersweet as well as decidedly perfect for this novel. This novel is recommended for young adult/adult readers.
Posted March 27, 2012
No text was provided for this review.
Posted January 9, 2014
No text was provided for this review.