If Jack’s in Love by Stephen Wetta
Published by: Amy Einhorn Books
Published on: September 29, 2011
Page Count: 368
Genre: Literary Fiction
My Reading Format: ARC copy sent by the publisher for consideration
Available Formats: Hardcover and eBook
It’s the late 60s in Virginia and Jack Witcher is an 11-year-old boy who finds himself in love. It’s a common occurrence. Unfortunately for Jack, the object of his youthful desire, Myra, comes from a wealthy family who in normal circumstances would look down on the Witchers. Unfortunately for Jack, his father and his older brother, both “true Witcher men,” have further alienated Myra’s family through physical violence. Jack can’t talk to his family about his feelings for Myra. His father and brother, men prone to violence, hate her family. His mother, generally a calming influence in the house, is too preoccupied with keeping her family fed now that his father has lost his job with no new work in site. Luckily he finds that he can confide in Mr. Gladstein, the local jewler, who takes Jack under his wing. Using Mr. Gladstein’s advice, Jack does his best to woo Myra without either family finding out. Unfortunately, things become even that much more complicated when Myra’s brother disappears without a trace and Jack’s brother is the prime suspect.
There is something about novels written about the coming of age of young men that captures my imagination. If Jack’s In Love did just that. Adolescence has to be one of the most confusing and often miserable times in one’s young life. It’s how a character takes this right of passage and works with it that makes the story. Every neighborhood has a family like the Witchers living in it. The family that makes you feel better about your own family. Imagine being born into such a family and not even fitting in with them? Jack is a character you can’t help but love. He is struggling with his feelings and his identity. What if he is just like his father and brother? What if he isn’t. Nothing feels right to him and this is unnerving enough without the anxiety of choosing between himself and his family. As a reader, I just wanted to take him in my arms and keep him safe. Luckily, Mr. Gladstein, an unlikely ally, takes him under his wing, offering him advice.
Amy Einhorn Books has a knack for publishing wonderful novels. If Jack’s In Love has a well-deserved place in the imprint. Stephen Wetta is a talented writer. His firm grasp on time and place provided a strong foundation on which to build the novel. Jack is in an emotionally charged and lost place. Wetta allows him to experience and react to the trouble at home and in his neighborhood and grow from them. He doesn’t give Jack an easy out. This story was engaging from the start. If I could have, I would have read it from cover gprs cover. If Jack’s In Love is a novel you won’t want to miss.