Let me just start by saying it is soooo refreshing to read a book about a young, gay man that is not focused on tragedy or self-hatred or shame or closed minded families! Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) is a celebration of gayness and gay sexuality, it’s a pride parade of a book!
Jack, is a strong willed, confident high school student. He is gay and proud and enjoys exploring his sexuality, which makes his sex life a hot topic generating a lot of outlandish gossip. Hoping to stop the gossip and set the record straight, Jack’s best friend enlisted him to start writing a weekly sex advice column. Like a teenage Dan Savage, Jack responds to a wide range of questions from his fellow students, providing advice and tips not covered in Sex Ed! BUT then Jack starts receiving pink origami love letters from a secret admirer. What may have started as flattering and cute quickly becomes threatening. Jack and his friends must uncover the stalker before threats become actions.
JoH (aOP) is an important addition to the YA genre by contributing insites on the adolescent experience that I have not come across in any other books. Yes the books discusses sex but it’s not crude or unnecessary. Young people have sex, gay people have sex. That’s a fact so accept it and move on! By far my favorite parts of the book were Jack’s column. I found the questions sincere and the responses well crafted, thoughtful, and generally good advice. I would have loved to read this when I was a teen! IMHO the main story line about the stalker felt almost secondary to plot of the story. It was a necessary component in order to move the book along but I just wasn’t that invested in it. Plus, I felt like the climax was quick and a little underwhelming (pun intended).
When I was a scared, closeted teen in the Midwest I would have loved to read a book that discusses gay identity and gay sexuality in such positive, open terms. Though the plot left somethings to be desired, the general tone and message of the book makes up for anything lacking. I’m so happy that a book like Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) exists and I think we need even more like it!
**This Advanced Reader Copy was provided by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for a honest review
- Title: Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts)
- Author: Lev A. C. Rosen
- Published: October 30, 2018 (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
- Genre: Young Adult, LGBT
- Booky Nooky Rating: * * * 1/2