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Jake Riley: Irreparably Damaged

Overview

Jake Riley is a nice guy.
Jake Riley is a loser.
Jake Riley is a good friend.
Jake Riley is dangerous.

Everyone has a different idea about Jake. Lainey's friends think he's her boyfriend. Lainey's mother thinks he's sad. Lainey's guidance...

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Overview

Jake Riley is a nice guy.
Jake Riley is a loser.
Jake Riley is a good friend.
Jake Riley is dangerous.

Everyone has a different idea about Jake. Lainey's friends think he's her boyfriend. Lainey's mother thinks he's sad. Lainey's guidance counselor thinks he is a bad influence on her.

None of these people really know the truth about Jake. Not even Lainey.

By the time Lainey learns the truth about Jake, she no longer has to wonder about one thing.

She knows he's dangerous.

The friendship between a troubled boy, recently released from a reform school, and the farm girl who lives next door angers the faculty at their school and leads to a dangerous confrontation. In this gripping debut novel, author Davis takes a hard look at some of the most difficult issues facing teenagers today. Once readers know Jake's story, they'll never forget it . . . or him.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This first novel handles strong subject matter with, unfortunately, a less than sure grip. Farm girl Lainey, the narrator, is first met as she and Jake, son of Lainey's dad's temporary farmhand, are "disemboweling" fireflies; soon after, he yanks up her shirt to expose her "tits." Although she's upset-and although she knows that Jake has just been released from reform school-she still agrees to hunt raccoons with him and, later, helps him amputate a squirrel's injured leg. Readers who get past these unappetizing scenes may be frustrated to find Jake and Lainey's developing friendship periodically interrupted by disturbing behavior (e.g., he holds her down against her will). While Davis successfully creates an aura of menace around Jake, she never quite convinces readers of Lainey's ambivalent feelings, and rather too neatly transpires to keep Lainey and Jake in contact. The action gets a sensationalistic spur when Lainey one day goes to check on her baby calves in the barn-and finds Jake in their midst, groaning, his pants unzipped (the author leaves the actual details to readers' imaginations). Jake threatens to kill Lainey if she tells anyone. While Davis eventually makes interesting points about how kids get written off (the school counselor has labeled Jake "irreparably damaged" in his file) and explores Lainey's awareness of the injustices visited upon Jake, these developments come too late. It's hard to imagine an audience for this novel. Ages 14-up. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
Davis paints her novel in varying shades of gray with a story line that the reader wishes could be simply black and white. Farm girl and tomboy Lainey finds herself the object of attraction for her neighbor, Jake. At first, it seems that the reader might be in for a standard tortured romance tale, but Jake is a troubled youth, and the author reveals just how troubled as the book proceeds and Jake's relationship with Lainey gets scary. Rather than creating just a simple, slasher/stalker story, Davis humanizes all the characters involved, making it infinitely more disturbing for the reader, whose sympathies can be with any character at any given time, including with Jake. Seemingly Davis's intent, it makes for quite an uncomfortable read, albeit one that should be read and then discussed. There are far too many ambiguities and mixed messages throughout-including the portrayal of many adults in a negative and untrustworthy manner-to simply leave the book without further analysis. This story is not light. Thank heavens for Lainey's no-nonsense, intriguing new friend, Arcadia Knowles, who provides a bit of a break from an otherwise too-heavy plot, but the story is crucial, especially for young women who find themselves in Lainey's situation. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P J S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2003, HarperCollins, 272p,
— Matthew Weaver
Children's Literature
When Jake comes to live with his father on Lainey's Central Iowa farm, he strikes up an uneasy friendship with Lainey. Fresh out of reform school, Jake is a strange blend of moral fortitude and threatening menace. He tells Laney that his school file says he is "irreparably damaged" by his experiences. Even Lainey's own father tells her that it is "too late to raise Jake right." Still, Lainey and Jake hang out, even working together to save an injured squirrel. But when Jake makes improper advances toward Lainey, her feelings of friendship turn to fear and loathing. Jake, who feels he has nothing left to lose, threatens to kill Lainey. The only one who seems to take him seriously is Lainey herself. Some may find it disturbing that these characters have easy access to weapons and seldom face repercussions for obtaining them. Though the dialogue has a redundant, stale flavor to it, the author has a knack for keeping the reader in suspense. The climax keeps you hanging until the final few pages. 2003, HarperCollins, Ages 12 to 16.
— Christopher Moning
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Lainey, 14, is being tormented by the son of a worker on her dad's Iowa farm, a boy who has been labeled in his high school counselor's file as "irreparably damaged." Jake's emotional maturity was badly stunted by his experiences in a juvenile-detention facility and he seems to be incapable of acceptable social interaction. When Lainey expresses her fears about him, her mother won't take her seriously and her father assigns both of them chores, believing that hard work is the cure for all the world's ills. Readers are drawn into a drama that feels real despite the novel's flaws-of which there are a few. Early on, Jake rescues a squirrel from certain death by amputating its leg; it's unclear whether this is an act of cruelty or kindness. Jake's threats against Lainey (both sexual and physical) are vivid and menacing for her as well as for sympathetic readers. The school counselor's coldness and the English teacher's insensitivities show Lainey's unreliability as a narrator, while, at the same time, her perceptions seem like those of a scared ninth grader. Her friends run the gamut from one who is socially and emotionally naive to another who becomes sexually active in spite of her own better judgment to a new girl who fascinates Lainey because of her apparent self-assurance. Arcadia's arrival on the scene and her connection to Jake seem tacked on rather than smoothly integrated. Nonetheless, this is a compelling read with credible and complex main characters. An excellent discussion choice.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This probing exploration of whether a ninth-grader can already be "irreparably damaged" is upsetting and scary. Jake has recently moved from reform school to his father’s place on Lainey’s family’s farm. He taunts and hurts Lainey, but she’s caught inside a paradox: she knows that he’s truly dangerous, but she also resents the school’s labeling of him and snaps instinctively to protect him. Meanwhile, Lainey’s parents are equally unhelpful, refusing to believe her, so Lainey is caught in confusion between silence and words. Davis’s writing style works perfectly because it seems invisible. Everything from farm details to the atmosphere of dread is fully believable. Jake’s threats, which begin as sexual, eventually progress to a plan of killing Lainey with a .22. Several horrifying ends can be imagined along the way, but the one that actually occurs is no less grim for being unpredictable. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060518387
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/1/2003
  • Pages: 240
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.32 (w) x 7.48 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

Rebecca Fjelland Davis grew up on a farm in Iowa. She now lives in Mankato, Minnesota, where she received an MFA at Minnesota State University. She spends her days and nights teaching English and humanities, writing, and cycling competitively.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2008

    Jake Riley: Irreparably Damaged

    Jake Riley is a little on the different side he likes in a home on a farm where his father works for a farmer. This farmer is Lainey's dad. Rainey and Jake get along okay most of the time there are a few incidents where Jake overstepped his boundaries with Lainey. However it seems like their counselor is always on Lainey about Jake. Always asking how Jake acts around her and Lainey is always covering his butt saying that it just a normal friendship. And even lainey realizes that what she has going with Jake is no normal relationship when she caches Jake in her animal barn, and this incident will open up many closed secrets on jakes half. My thoughts on the book are simple: strange, different, exciting, and scary. I feel this way because it is a different style of writing than I am used to. Also the main character (Jake) is very strange. I really didn¿t really have many dislikes about the book it is very easy reader and an awesome book. And for last thoughts I can honestly say that I enjoyed this book and I can¿t really compare it to anything I have ever read or seen before.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2008

    Jake Riley: Irreparably Damaged

    Jake Riley is a little on the different side he likes in a home on a farm where his father works for a farmer. This farmer is Lainey's dad. Rainey and Jake get along okay most of the time there are a few incidents where Jake overstepped his boundaries with Lainey. However it seems like their counselor is always on Lainey about Jake. Always asking how Jake acts around her and Lainey is always covering his butt saying that it just a normal friendship. And even lainey realizes that what she has going with Jake is no normal relationship when she caches Jake in her animal barn, and this incident will open up many closed secrets on jakes half. My thoughts on the book are simple: strange, different, exciting, and scary. I feel this way because it is a different style of writing than I am used to. Also the main character 'Jake' is very strange. I really didn¿t really have many dislikes about the book it is very easy reader and an awesome book. And for last thoughts I can honestly say that I enjoyed this book and I can¿t really compare it to anything I have ever read or seen before.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2004

    Awesome and addicting read!!

    I first heard a short passage of this book read by the author. I wanted to read it, and when I got the chance to do so, I could not put the book down. I read the book in a single day I was so involved in it. While the subject matter is mature, it is representative of the world today. I can't wait for the next book by Becky to be published. If you haven't read this book, you're missing out!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2004

    A Valuable Lesson to be Learned

    I could not put this book down - I read it in one 4 hour sitting! The main reason that it's so thought provoking is because it makes the reader feel uncomfortable. It paints a true picture of what life is often like for 'damaged' kids. Although his behavior is at times questionable and often dangerous, we also see the good, caring, human side of Jake. At times the story is shocking, but ultimately (and sadly) it is a realistic portrayal. It contrasts what seems to be the unfairness of life with the resiliency of the human spirit in perfect balance. It leaves the reader not only wondering what will happen to Jake, and Lainey for that matter, but really caring for both of them. This is a great read for adults of all ages, as it forces readers to abandon assumptions and view people from a different perspective, without passing judgement.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2004

    A fabulous book!!

    This is in response to Melissa. You sounded as if this was a horrible book and should not be allowed to be read by children. This was an amazing book with a realistic portrayal. If everything your kids read is sugarcoated then I pity them b/c the greatest literature is written about reality. One of the things that made this book so captivating was that it was real and dealt with the issues you named. If you have a problem with these issues use this as an opportunity to talk to them and expose them to a great book. Don't try and hide the truth about things from your kids. I guarantee that they know more than you would let them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2003

    Parents Beware

    This book contains profanity, sexuality, homosexuality among young boys and beastiality. Need I say more?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2003

    Great Book!

    A great read. Wonderful for adults as well as teens. I couldn't put it down!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2003

    Top Notch Book

    This is a wonderful story. Clear prose and a credible plot combine to make this a first rate read. I followed along alternating paths of loathing and sympathy for Jake, and the ending left me relieved for Lainey, but also interested in the characters future!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2003

    Addicting..

    Like heroin for your eyeballs, I couldn't put this down from cover to cover! I can't wait until the next book comes out by this author!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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