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If Jack's in Love Hardcover – September 29, 2011

47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Wetta's debut portrays the fictional El Dorado Hills in Virginia during the late 1960s with Southern gothic flair. ... At turns unsparing, tender, and disturbing when it comes to rivalry and the nuances of love versus obligation, this is no typical bildungsroman. That Jack emerges from a crucible determined never to look back is unsurprising; it is the path leading him to this conclusion that is intelligently, wonderfully conceived." — Publisher's Weekly, starred review.

"If Jack's in Love is a moving portrait of a specific time, family and town, but also a universal story of growing up and coming to terms with the people-and places-that raise us, told with all the humor, truth and urgency of its teenage hero. It may have taken the first half of his life to write, but Wetta's touching novel was well worth the wait." — BookPage

"...[Y]ou should read this wonderfully written marvel of a book: a work both gripping and hilarious, joyous and heartbreakingly bittersweet." — The Wall Street Journal

"The language here is wonderful. . . . downright funny." — School Library Journal

". . . terrific . . . raw and complicated . . . keeps us gripped until the end." — The Daily Beast

About the Author

Stephen Wetta is a native of Richmond, Virginia. He received his Bachelor's Degree from VCU and received Ph. D. at New York University. Stephen is currently an English professor at Hunter College. If Jack’s in Love is his first novel.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Adult HC/TR; First Edition edition (September 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780399157523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399157523
  • ASIN: 0399157522
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #235,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A high school dropout, Stephen Wetta, grew up in the '60s and '70s, drank, used drugs, got in financial trouble, and spent far too much time reading and writing. He knocked around for years at different jobs, didn't like any of them, and got sober without wanting to. Somehow he wound up with a Ph.D. and worked for ten years as an adjunct. His academic career was singularly undistinguished, and he was eventually hired full-time by a school that couldn't get rid of him. Shortly afterward he was jailed for tax evasion. If Jack's In Love is his first novel.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Falkor VINE VOICE on October 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
For some reason when I selected the new book IF JACK'S IN LOVE from Amazon it was identified as a children's book. This is not the case even though the narrator/protagonist is describing the events of the summer he turned thirteen. Though the book is more suitable for teens/young adult then children because of its theme of an adult looking back on the trauma of his dysfunctional family I would categorize the book as general fiction.

The setting of the book is suburban Virginia in the late 1960's. The narrator Jack is a very bright and basically good kid who is often unaccepted by his peers because of the antics of his father and older brother Stan that cause the family to be deemed "trash". Stan and his father are not without charm as they are skilled in the "manly arts" of fixing cars, fighting and attracting women. Things come to a head when Stan is accused of the disappearance and later murder of a promising local boy with whom he had a very public feud. To complicate matters the dead boy's sister is Jack's first love interest. Confused Jack turns to a local jeweler, Moses Gladstein, for advice and stability.

IF JACK'S IN LOVE is written in a humorous style and has some laugh out loud moments despite its dark plot and themes. The author touches on some ideas important to the late 1960's in the South but does not develop them to a great extent. He does do a good job of creating believable teenage characters of the time period though the adults never appear as genuine. This is a decent coming of age novel that will likely be more appreciated by adults than teens and is definitely not for children.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jessica on January 18, 2012
Format: Audible Audio Edition
I found if Jack's in Love was a fun read.... The protagonist Jack is a bright young man from a dysfunctional family, that is literally living with the word "trash" scrawled across his house. While navigating the challenges of falling in love Jack seeks the wisdom of his adopted male role model - a gentleman sage found in a jewelry store. Jack's girlfriend is socially out of his league but intellectually very much his peer. This innocent loving relationship is contrasted by the lethargic drunkard father, bellicose brother and his hedonistic girlfriend, all this converges with an underlying mystery the weight of which drags him dangerously close to a nervous break down. Set in a racist community during the upheaval of the 60's, the presidential assassination, vietnam, Beatles and Jimi Hendrix , back yard blues, and breaking the laws, racism and class divides.... If Jack's in Love is an unexpected gem that leaves you with one wish: to end all Bulling .....recommend for anyone who is seeking a mystery with mature Kids should read this and discuss consequences of behavior.

One more thing I have to admit the main reason I bought the book was the authors biography (sadly, It is un available to Amazonian shoppers).....
It made me laugh, and wonder if he lived that crazy and wrote that well what would the book be like? .... I was not disappointed!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ellen Menard on January 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book should be an "instant" classic! In the hands of a less worthy writer, the story could have been a cliche. But this "new" author, Wetta, has written an auspicious debut masterpiece mystery. He has created a cast of characters so palpable to the senses, one can smell them, let alone see or hear them. Twelve year old Jack's voice is so strong and authentic, this reader found herself wanting to alternately hug and lecture him. "If Jack's in Love" is one of the best fiction to grace us in some time. Mr. Wetta, please don't wait another 50 years to treat us to your exquisite and authentic prose. Please!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Diane VINE VOICE on September 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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.
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