A few “sexy” bullet points about Jay:
• He is in love with a cheerleader named Cameo “Appearance” Parnell
• He is forever losing “Love-15” to tennis-playing goddess Caroline Richardson
• He rocks a touché array of pop-culture references, jokes, and puns
• His family-life cookie is about to crumble.
Live vicariously through Jay as he faces off against his mortal enemy, gets awkward around his dream girl(s), loses his marbles in a Bermudian love triangle, watches his parents’ relationship implode, and, finally, learns to get real and be himself(ish).
Discovery: Jay Clark can thank the wonderful people at Raincoast Books for bringing this novel to my attention! As most of us YA readers know, female protagonists can take over the YA section, so it’s always awesome to come across some boys.
+ Voice. Jay Baker may be dealing with some crazy drama llamas, but his identity is never in question. His wit is bitingly sharp, his sense of humour relentless–there’s not much in this world that Jay can’t handle. It’s a rare fifteen-year-old who knows exactly who he is at that age, and I loved getting to know him. I’m especially intrigued by how pop-culture savvy he is! The writing style isn’t as clunky as one might imagine with all those celebrity/TV/movie/music references. Jay (both of them) know exactly how to keep readers turning the pages: the paragraphs come fast and furious, and the story is cleverly related.
+ Cross-audience appeal. I’ll be honest: when I first started reading this book, I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it. The tone felt a little too close to MG novels and there were moments when I started to get bored because Jay’s problems were so far away from my own at his age. I also grew concerned that the rapid-fire pop culture mentions might turn off younger readers who won’t know what Jay is talking about. That said, I think this is a perfect book for tweens who are transitioning from MG to YA. Jay’s POV will be familiar to them, as will his concerns (finding a girlfriend, passing Algebra, dealing with his parents’ estrangement). His voice isn’t that of a ten-year-old, but of a boy who’s starting to really grow up, and the results are fantastic.
The final say: Young teens will thoroughly enjoy this snarky romp of a story, and root for Jay as he strives to figure out what to love in this crazy world.