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The Edumacation of Jay Baker (Christy Ottaviano Books) Hardcover – January 31, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* First off: not a thing happens here that’s unusual for a teen, or a teen book for that matter. Jay Baker nurses a crush on his longtime best friend, Cam; becomes an emotional mess after his parents’ separation; clashes with his homecoming-queen older sister; and weathers a feud with a pushy jock who could squash him like a bug. But the magic lies in the telling. Jay, a large-hearted wiseass who’s nearly impossible to dislike, has a narrative patter so deeply laced with groaner puns, pop-culture bombs, and warp-speed free associations that it’s almost a new language. It’s an argot he shares with vivacious Cam (whose real name, hilariously, is Cameo Appearance Parnell), but after he gets rebuffed trying to share a bit more with her, he starts seeing another cutie who’s more or less the anti-Cam. While their awkward love triangle takes shape, Jay’s parents get mired in their own supremely embarrassing love-life disaster. To help him out of his funk, Jay’s government teacher (who can match him bon mot for bon mot) challenges him to use his considerable powers of clever to write a school blog. OK, so it’s not the most thrilling goal ever, but getting there is both flippantly fun and surprisingly resistant to ironic detachment. Most of all, though, Jay’s smarts, originality, and warmth make the old teen trope of the hot girl(s) falling for the doofus guy actually believable. Grades 8-11. --Ian Chipman

Review

"The Edumacation of Jay Baker has something for everyone, and hopefully you'll emerge smarter for having read it."--Teenreads.com

"I don't remember the last time I laughed out loud so often while reading a book."--Mundie Moms Blog 

Readers eager to give both their hearts and their brains an energetic work-out will enjoy this mash-up… (BCCB)

Jay's smarts, originality, and warmth make the old teen trope of the hot girl(s) falling for the doofus guy actually believable. (Booklist, Starred Review)

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Product Details

  • Series: Christy Ottaviano Books
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); 1 edition (January 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805092560
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805092561
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,480,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

11 random factoids about Jay Clark

1. When at home and walking into an empty room, I have a tendency to begin singing loudly -- a self-protective mechanism whereby I think a potential intruder and/or ghost will start laughing (or singing along?) and alert me to his/her presence.
2. I enjoy a good whale documentary more than just about anyone. Especially if the narrator is Tom Selleck or Morgan Freeman.
3. Sometimes I wake up saying, "Today is the day I'm going to get organized!" I'm not sure what happens after that besides a whole lotta nothing.
4. I enjoy promising myself that I'll start blending high-protein smoothies soon, but then I never want to search for the proper ingredients at the grocery store. I've created many vicious circles like this for myself, including whether or not to call these patterns vicious cycles or vicious circles.
5. I vacillate between downloading too many productivity apps and then deleting them after reading a productivity book/article on essentialism. (I haven't found this back-and-forth to be particularly productive.)
6. I'm easily addicted to brain-training programs like Lumosity and Elevate. When the procrastination starts eating away at me, that's how I know it's time to stop and search for a new productivity app that I don't need.
7. I seem to write best after procrastinating for hours upon hours, at which point my mind is too tired from all the brain-training games to brainstorm any going-nowhere alternatives to actually working.
8. Whenever it's time to mow the lawn I feel like the world is going to end, even though deep down I know the world doesn't care if I die from boredom.
9. I believe in the power of dream boards but get embarrassed by the inspirational collage I've put together as the desktop image for my computer.
10. I use the same hair pomade as Elvis Presley. This makes me feel cooler by association than it maybe should.
11. I like to invent awesomely bad products that people might think they need but really don't, then practice my inevitable pitch to the sharks of Shark Tank. (Barbara is always out immediately. Kevin pokes a few holes in my numbers but then extends me a terrible offer based on his begrudging respect for my ability to sell crap. Mark makes a face like he's constipated the whole time. Lori thinks I'm more hero than zero and partners with Robert to offer me an amazing deal, which I accept, and we immediately start shooting a QVC infomercial.)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By April VINE VOICE on March 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Edumacation Of Jay Baker by Jay Clark is a young adult contemporary novel about a boy whose parents are divorcing and the effects of the divorce on him. Jay is an average freshman boy for the most part, he's got a huge crush on his best friend Cameo Parnell, is running for student government and has an enemy, Mike Hibbert, who likes to rhyme Jay with other words.

The Edumacation Of Jay Baker by Jay Clark is mostly a book about self-discovery. It's a book about not defining yourself by others, but by the things you are good at and care about. I'm being purposefully vague, but Jay Baker certainly has a lot to learn.

The best element of The Edumacation of Jay Baker is the humor. Reading about Jay trading barbs with Mike is laugh out loud funny. Plus, Jay is very self-deprecating which is something I appreciate in a YA character. Also, there's one character, a teacher, who is a hoot and zany and wonderful.

However, The Edumacation Of Jay Baker is not a perfect read. Jay's love interests, Cameo and Caroline, are bland and never seem very three dimensional. There is not much nuance going on with the two. Also the book is weighed down by excessive pop culture references. It felt like every other sentence contained one.

If you're looking for a young adult take on divorce with a light tough and don't mind excessive pop culture references, by all means check out The Edumacation of Jay Baker by Jay Clark.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By H. R. Rikard on March 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
From the moment I picked this book up, until the last page, I was laughing; even in the parts that were more serious I still got a chuckle. I'm not sure how much of an autobiography this book is, but it reminded me a lot of Sherman Alexie's Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian. In this book, Jay Baker is a freshman who is not the leader of the "nerd herd", but definitely not part of the popular crowd. He uses humor and sarcasm to overcome a boy who bullies him during the freshman class president election, and self-deprecating humor to handle all the other bad things coming up in his life right now: including his parents' "trial separation", his life-long unrequited crush on his friend Cameo "Appearance" Parnell, and finding a new girl in his life who kicks his butt at tennis and in love.
The book is a very fast read because it's set up into small "songs". He has disc one and disc two and then each chapter has been renamed for a popular song...and his titles are extremely creative and extremely funny. I will admit he has so many pop culture references it could make you a little dizzy - and students are not going to catch them all - but he is so clever, I just loved it. As a librarian, I can recommend this for grades 9 and up because it has some crude humor, references to masturbation, and of course he's a teenage boy who thinks about sex... a lot. But if you have reluctant boy readers looking for a book, this will hit the target. And I'm sure the girls would enjoy it as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Heidi on May 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Jay is a freshman dealing with the typical angst that plagues teenage boys. Raging hormones, unrequited feelings for his best friend, bully problems, and all the awkwardness that comes with being a teenager. His burdens become heavier when his parents announce they are separating on a trial basis. His dad is a workaholic and not home much. Consequently, his mother started up an affair with a low life, who just happens to be the father of one of his friends. Things go from bad to worse as Jay grapples with his family being torn apart, his arch nemesis, Mike, continues his ruthless taunts, Cameo, his best friend and love interest starts dating another dirt bag and he fails miserably in the debate for class president. There is a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel. A new girl, Caroline, comes to town and he forms a fast relationship with her. Will Jay somehow survive his unpleasant and geeky teenage years?
Three and a half stars: A witty tale of a teenage boy coping with teenage and adult drama.

What I Liked:
*This is one of those books you grab when you are in the mood for a mindless, funny read. It is a novel full of everything you expect when following a somewhat nerdy teenage boy: bathroom humor, loads of sexual references, awkwardness and plenty of hilarious antics. This is a book you can pick up and put down because the plot is simplistic and perfect for days when your mind is tired.
*I loved being in Jay's head. There are so many funny and witty comments in this book that will have you snorting and laughing out loud (seriously the type where you really do laugh, none of that fake LOL crap when you don't mean it). For whatever reason I enjoy following the ridiculous thought process of a teenage boy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on March 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Like most high school freshman, Jay Baker is sarcastic, hormone-driven, and full of teenage angst. He's semi in love with his best friend, Cameo "Appearance" Parnell (talk to her parents about her name). He is constantly tormented by his nemesis, Mike Hibbard, often for no apparent reason. Jay also likes to trade barbs with his favorite teacher, Ms. Lambert, and he's just not sure what to make of the new girl, Caroline "the-tennis-player" Richardson. Even with all of these normal teenager distractions, Jay is completely shocked to find out that his parents have decided to separate for an "undetermined period of time."

An "undetermined period of time" seems suspicious to Jay, and although he helps move his mother into her new temporary trailer-home, he's still holding out hope that his mom and dad will work things out. In the midst of this new peril, Jay and Cameo finally decide to take their friendship to the next level. Sadly, it comes crashing down once Jay finds out that his mom has been cheating on his father with Cameo's dad. Talk about a reality show gone horribly wrong. Jay and Cameo find themselves immediately at odds with one another, and Jay begins to realize his mother isn't the perfect person he thought she was.

As Jay's mom begins regular visitations with Mr. Parnell, Jay's dad also starts bringing home his own lady friend. Now with apparently no one on his side, Jay decides to find help in some of the most unexpected places. Jay and his older sister, Abby, decide to unite forces and not be caught in the middle of their parents' spat. Jay also confides in Ms. Lambert and finds solace in his high school's lonely hallways. Finally, Jay and Caroline start practicing their tennis moves regularly.
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