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The Edumacation of Jay Baker (Christy Ottaviano Books) Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 31, 2012
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"I don't remember the last time I laughed out loud so often while reading a book."--Mundie Moms Blog
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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. Be prepared for loads of crude bathroom references (Jay suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and non stop thoughts on sex as well as self deprecating type remarks. This book will introduce you to many new sexual euphemisms and innuendos. If you are not the type that appreciates teenage boy humor, this book is not for you.
*While on the surface this book is billed as a humorous book I appreciate that it dealt with some very real issues. There are three characters, Jay, Cameo and Caroline, who have parents with some major problems. Jay and his sister Abby are dealing with the break up of their family due to their mother's infidelity. I liked watching how each of the siblings grappled with the situation differently and how they experienced a gamut of emotions. Especially for Jay the feelings he has regarding the issue are interesting. At the end I applauded his mature decision when new allegations come to light. The way he confronts his mother and deals with the problem show a marked growth and new found maturity.
*I loved the relationship between Jay and his sister Abby. Abby as a senior,of course,is obsessed with her boyfriend, popularity and cell phone, and her brother is the least of her concerns. As the events unfurl, the two bond and rediscover the importance of sibling relationships. The way Abby nonchalantly looks out for her little brother is adorable. I loved the late night floor sleep overs and the phone texts that Jay uses to get his sister's attention and most of all the way she fiercely protects him, but don't tell her friends that. This was my favorite aspect of the story.
*I liked how on the chapters are a play on real song titles which the author lists at the end of the book. You get such gems as: "Dad Likes Her Butt And He Cannot Lie", "I Just Called To Say I'm Pooping", "Give Me One Reason Not To Shoot Myself In The Face." These are: "Baby Got Back", Sir Mix A Lot, "I Just Called To Say I Love You", Stevie Wonder and "Give Me One Reason", Tracy Chapman.
*Finally, I mentioned in some of my previous reviews that coming of age books where characters deal with some major issues and at the end exhibit marked growth are some of my favorite reads. I thoroughly enjoyed the steps toward maturity that Jay takes and the way he comes to terms with the issues surrounding his family. Also I admired how he reconciles his feelings regarding Caroline and Cameo, and the resolution of his ongoing feud with Mike where he discovers they might have more in common than they realized. At the end you can chart his progress and see he is on his way to becoming a more mature adult... well he is trying, I doubt he will give up his bathroom/sex jokes.
And The Not So Much:
*One of my big issues in this book was that it is kind of all over. There is no clear plot line. You get a bunch of random scenes that flicker all over the map. It does not follow a neat, cohesive story line. The humor spices it up and keeps you entertained but more than a few times the jokes went over my head because they felt more like inside jokes and they were often lost on me.
*I wish Jay's father was more involved. In the beginning he has a main role but as the story progresses he is absent, a background character. Jay's mother is a strong presence and you get to see her viewpoint which I liked, I wish his father's perspective was shown. I would have liked to know his father's reaction to his mother's final revelation.
*I wanted a bit more resolution of the parental issues that Caroline and Cameo faced. Both girls dealt with difficult situations and I would like to see how they settled out; especially for Cameo, her home life was a mess.
The Educmacation of Jay Baker is an entertaining read that explores the angst and drama in an average teenage boy's life. It is ridiculous and full of crude humor and sexual references. It is not all fun and games, though. This book depicts a young man learning that his parents aren't the models of perfection he always believe them to be. They are human and fallible just like everyone else. If you are not the type (a deviant like me) that appreciates this type of humor then this is not a book for you. If you want something light, funny but also a book with mature changes pick this one up.
"Eyebrows raised, Dad was looking might surprised by my sudden rebellious streak. Normally such a square peg, I'd gone and dug myself a round grave."
"Even a confident, accomplished career man like Jim Baker could be shattered by his wife checking out a copy of another guy's Moby Dick."
"Ah, fart jokes. A common denominator bringing everyone closer together since Adam let forth the first one in front of Eve."
"I'm a parent, Jay," she replied. "I have guilt that goes on for miles. The pollution of my life."
"The least Keith could have done was driven a different vehicle. His rust-bucket van wasn't fit to take a dump in, and the last thing our family needed was for it to be parked outside Mom's---flashing a sign to the world that he was Magna-Doodling her on a regular basis."
A big thanks to Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) for kindly providing me a copy for review purposes.