Book Review: If Jack’s in Love by Stephen Wetta

Title: If Jack’s in Love
Author: Stephen Wetta
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books, Plume
ISBN: 9780399157523
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 358
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

If Jack’s in Love is not another coming of age book. While it seems to be one of the same genre, it isn’t one of those. Having said that, it is also not a book for children. Young Adults can definitely read it, as it is meant for them, however not for kids.

The story starts in suburban Virginia in the late 60’s. The narrator but obviously is Jack – who is a bright and basically good kid who has a tough time being accepted by his peers because of his father and older brother Stan’s antics about town. Amidst this, a murder of a local boy takes place for which Stan is accused. Jack is in love with the dead boy’s sister. Jack has no one to turn to but the local jeweler Moses Gladstein for advice and stability.

The problem that could have taken place while writing the book would have been the setting; however that comes across quite convincingly in this book. Stephen Wetta grew up in the 60’s, so it becomes very easy for him to depict a teenager’s life in those times.

I liked the plot, though at times it did get a little dark for me. I loved the perceptive voice of Jack growing up and seeing the world with a fresh perspective. The characters are brilliantly drawn from the Southern society of those times and linger with you long after you have finished reading the book.

Jack’s dreams and fears are beautifully chronicled; they almost become a part of you when you read. Stephen Wetta doesn’t come across as a debut writer. It seems as though he has been at this craft for years now. This is one of the books that looks at the dark side of life and also embraces the joy it brings in unexpected places.

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