Review: If Jack’s In Love by Stephen Wetta

September 29, 2011 Amy Einhorn Books, Mystery/Suspense, Review 9

  • Hardcover:368 pages
  • Publisher:Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam (September 29, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0399157522
  • Source:  Publisher

The Witcher house was the one house in the neighborhood everyone avoided. I was falling apart, dogs always roamed in the yard. Twelve-year-old Jack Witcher lives in that house, along with low-life, pot-smoking brother Stan, his frequently unemployed father & his beautiful, hard-working mother.

Jack is a genius. No one denies it.  If it weren’t for his last name, he’d have a pretty remarkable and happy childhood. But he doesn’t. Due to his father’s lack of emotion or feeling, Jack can’t seem to form any sort of emotional attachment to anyone. Until, that is, he meets Myra Joyner.  The Joyner family doesn’t quite get along with the Witchers.  Myra is forbidden to speak with Jack, but they are both determined to at least attempt some sort of relationship.

But then tragedy hits; Myra’s brother, Gaylord, the town’s golden boy has gone missing. Stan’s a person of interest in Gaylord’s disappearance. The two had been in a few scuffles before in the past.  Needless to say, this certainly puts a kink in any sort of relationship Jack has with Myra.

But with the help of his only friend, Mr. Gladstein, the town jeweler, Jack is determine to win the love of Myra, whatever it takes.  Additionally, Jack is forced to deal with a truth he’s hiding, clawing away at his conscious. In dealing with both issues, he comes to the realization that he must overcome the town’s prejudices about him and his family, to be the individual he’s destined to be. No matter the consquences, including the potential damage it could cause to his family.

Jack is a completely endearing character. He’s smart, hard-working, talented…but all of this is forgotten purely due to his family name. You can say he’s gotten used to living this way. No Witcher has ever been successful, held a decent job, went to a quality school. The amount of growth Jack experiences throughout the novel is impressive. The sort of stigma surrounding the family is strong, yet Jack is able to overcome it.  He’s desperate not to become like his brother and father. The fact that his period of growth & rediscovery takes place at this age makes the change ever more powerful.  As a teen, one searches for identity, struggles to connect. But to completely separate one’s self from the only the identity they’ve ever known? Powerful. Had Jack not had Mr. Gladstein at his side, I’m certain his fate wouldn’t have been so pretty.

Wetta captures Jack’s story perfectly; the feelings Jack experiences, his response to strife in his family, are typical and accurate for his age. The story is a compelling one, the reader is drawn in instantly. The prose is quite fluid, the reader will find themselves immersed in the story in no time.  The subthemes of racial and economic tension add a unique spin.

If Jack’s in Love is a compelling coming-of-age story, one that I recommend highly.

9 Responses to “Review: If Jack’s In Love by Stephen Wetta”

  1. Renna

    The book sounds wonderful but the name “Gaylord” really throws me off for some reason. I would still read it but that name coming up would always jar me for that brief moment.

  2. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads

    Excellent review. There is so much to talk about and so many different aspect to this novel, it would be an excellent book club choice.

  3. Michelle

    I saw this one on Candaces blog earlier today and commented how it looks like one that I need to put on my list of books to read. Now I’m twice as convinced.

  4. Michelle
    Twitter: whatsheread

    The third review of this book all in the same day! I definitely need to get this sooner rather than later!