Customer Reviews: If Jack's in Love
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VINE VOICEon 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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on January 18, 2012
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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on July 31, 2013
Really good crisp writing and pacing in this book, its the story of honor roll student Stan Witcher out of place in a surrounding middle class suburb as he navigates through the shoals of his dysfunctional family. Its hard enough being a teenager when your brother is not the primary suspect in the disappearance of your first love's brother. A great group of supporting characters include a black janitor blues man, Jewish jewelry store owner and KKK country club member in the segregated 1960's. Stan has a lot to teach all of us about love. It's a clever concept of a book, with the title drawn from a Benjamin Franklin quote "If Jack's in love, he's no judge of Jill's beauty."
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on January 1, 2012
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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VINE VOICEon February 3, 2014
This book comes closest to evoking the small-town world atmosphere as told through a child's eyes in as successful a way as Harper Lee's classic, "To Kill a Mockingbird." Both books take place in the southern part of the US, this one in the 1960s. Race plays a more minor role here, but the author, Stephen Wetta, puts an emphasis on how more-affluent people might look down upon less well-off people.

Jack is a twelve (soon to be 13) year old who is an outlier in his family; he's actually kind and intelligent, but the rest of his male relatives are neither kind nor particularly smart. His family becomes the epicenter of a town scandal when a rich boy goes missing and Jack's older brother is the number-one suspect in his disappearance. This is a sweet novel, and there are great small-town characters. You'll keep reading it until you're done, and won't want your real life to interrupt your stay in Jack's imaginary one.
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on February 9, 2015
It was off to a great start, but ultimately, this book disappointed me. My favorite part of it was the author biography.

Bottom line: it reads like a first novel. Like the author hasn't quite matured yet (and I believe it is his first). Worth a read for the story, though.
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on July 8, 2014
It started out good but ultimately disappointing. You get the idea of a good kid living in poor circumstances but with at least one parent with good values. You want to cheer the underdog throughout the story but the story never really unfolds. There is no twist, no surprises...what you learn in the beginning of the story, IS the story.
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on January 4, 2012
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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on May 18, 2014
Beautiful story about tragedy within a family and how the members of that family deal with those life choices. I absolutely loved this book and cannot wait to pick it up again (after my long list of other books!). This novel will have you laughing and feeling sad for Jack all at once.
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VINE VOICEon September 11, 2012
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. Maybe I might have killed him. The day came and I made the decision. But I will never know."
How can you resist reading on?

The author's take on the complexities of love and family intrigued me. Jack's mom explains why she married his dad this way:
"I knew he'd never get it in his head he was too good for me. He has an inferiority complex a mile wide. Most people can't see that, but I saw it right away." Jack "went to (his) room and meditated on the mysteries of women, deeper that all the philosophies of humankind put together."
On families, Jack thinks:
"Families live on loyalty more than love, and it wasn't fear that made me keep my mouth shut. I could never forget that Stan bled for me. And yet I was terrified of him."
If Jack's In Love is a book written for adults, but there is much here for teens to appreciate. Jack is an outsider, torn between his love for his mother, and yes even his father and brother, and his desire to have a different, better life. His feelings are no doubt shared by many adolescents, and this book would be a great one for high school English classes.
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