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

45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (September 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780399157523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399157523
  • ASIN: 0399157522
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.2 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,283,109 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 Amazon Customer 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 tones...my 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 Alexander Pilot on October 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I picked up If Jack's in Love, I really didn't know what to expect. Two hundred pages later, I looked up and noticed that I was laughing way too loud on the subway. Fellow New Yorkers were giving me the evil eye. In short, If Jack's in Love is a fantastic book and I offer it my strongest recommendation.

Wetta captures the voice and troubles of the book's twelve year old protagonist in an extraordinary way. The book breathes with his dreams and fears and longing. We desperately want Jack to succeed in his courtship of Myrna, a girl whose family is about a thousand rungs above Jack's in the town's social hierarchy.

There is so much to love in this novel. We want Jack's mother, who is the ugliest woman in town, to be loved right. You can feel what a tough son of a bitch his father is and are scared yourself that he'll kick your ass if you step out of line. Each character in this novel jumps off the page and makes you worry when they're having a tough time and celebrate when they succeed.

What's more, Stephen Wetta paints a place that you inhabit. The town where Jack lives is rendered so perfectly, I could easily make my way around the place if I were dropped there right now.

This is one of those rare novels that manages to both explore the darkness in our souls, and make us laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of life.

Get this book. You're gonna love it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Luiz on January 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A powerful story of a bright, Southern 13-year-old boy dealing with the burdens of being a member of the pariah family in a middle-class Virginian town in the late 1960s. The story is well written, although a little slow in pacing, as young Jack pines over a girl who's a member of one of the upper-crust families, while having to deal with both his unemployed dad, who wants to rob the jewelry store of a man who's befriended Jack and with his violent older brother, who abuses and threatens the older brother of young Jack's crush. Jack pines over Myra, who returns his affection because he is the only one in their class at school who is as smart as she is, and that connection enables her to look past his family's lower social standing. But when her older brother, Gaylord, goes missing, the whole town suspects if was Jack's brother who did something to him, and that dooms young Jack's relationship. The novel offers a wonderful portrait of the dilemmas of being an outcast and the perils of feeling threatened by one's own family members. If you enjoyed this book, I strongly recommend Dallas Hudgens' Drive Like Hell: A Novel, which offers a similar portrait of a young teenage boy coping with the challenges of being in a white trash family, although in a more comic vein.
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