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Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts) by L C Rosen - Review

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Where did I get it? I bought it on Kindle for 99p! A bargain. I'd read about it somewhere and was intrigued by the premise.

What's it about? Jack is seventeen and lives in New York with his mother. He is gay, he's been out for years and everyone knows about it. He has a healthy sex life, he spends weekends at parties and hooking up with boys. 

He has two best friends, Ben, and Jenna. Ben is also gay, and black, and really into costuming. He's also desperate for a big love story of his own. Jenna runs a political website about school funding and stuff like that, and she asks Jack to contribute a column about sex and relationships. He agrees.

He is gossiped about a lot because of his sex life, although reality is never as wild as the gossip makes out. He begins to write the column, and then begins to receive creepy notes. Dropped into his locker, written on pink paper and folded into origami, it becomes obvious that the note writer wants Jack for themselves and is also watching him closely. At first Jack ignores the notes, carries on with his life, but then the anonymous person threatens his friends and his mother. Jenna wants to go to the police (which would have been very sensible, says adult me), but Jack doesn't want to worry his mother. 

The book is sexually explicit - Jack has a lot of sex and enjoys it. It's always safe sex, and through his columns we see him give really sensible advice about all aspects of sex and relationships; I thought this was an excellent aspect of the book. Jack is entirely unrepentant about who he is, his sexuality, his clothes, his make up, even though under the threats you would understand if he didn't feel this way. I loved this so much, I thought Jack himself was an excellent character and I was happy that sex was portrayed so positively (and when it wasn't, it was made clear it wasn't the victim's fault). 

I liked Jenna and Ben, although I would have liked to see more about them. I liked Jack's mum and the fact that he was conceived through donor sperm - you never see stuff like this in books and it is a fact of modern life! I was happy to see that. I did think Jack made some stupid decisions, but I get that teenagers often don't and that it was in keeping with the book as a whole. I liked the ending. I think this is a great book and I can't recommend it enough!

What age range is it for? Sixteen plus, I guess, due to sexual content 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Obviously. Also one of the boys Jack slept with was bisexual! Yes for bisexual representation! This was dealt with really nicely, too. 

Are any main characters people of colour? Yes, Jack mentions at one point that he has more privilege than Ben because he's white and Ben isn't. In fact Jack acknowledges his privilege quite a lot of times, which I liked. He lives in New York and repeatedly says that he has it easier than someone in the middle of nowhere. I feel like the author thought a lot about this and made it clear. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Jack does suffer from anxiety when he starts getting threats, I liked how this was portrayed. 

Is there any sex stuff? Yes, lots. It is frank without being gratuitously explicit, but if this isn't for you, well, don't read the book 

Are drugs mentioned or used? Yes, the three of them smoke pot a couple of times, but
nothing else. 

Is there any talk of death? No I don't think so. 

Are there swear words? Yes. Again, I thought it was just very realistic, but your mileage may vary 

What criticisms do I have? Almost none. I loved this 

Would I recommend the book? Yes. Buy it now. What a fantastic example of YA literature. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I'd just bought it and I couldn't sleep so I ended up reading 40% of it without even really realising. 

What other books is it like? It's a lot like Simon vs, only... better. It's apparent how far YA lit has come since Simon vs was published, and I'm glad about it (and that's not to say I don't love Simon vs!). Talking about sex explicitly and safe sex specifically, and privilege, and other things like that is just fabulous. 

How many stars? Ten out of ten. Read it now!

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