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"He's No Judge Of Jill's Beauty"
on October 3, 2011
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.