*Bought at Barnes & Noble after reading the first 20 pages and being unable to put it down.
What it’s like to be Jack Witcher: like running through a field full of land mines.
It’s 1967, and Jack is a smart kid, but he comes from the kind of family where his dad wants to fight the neighbors, his brother is the “bad kid” no one wants his or her daughter dating, and his mother isn’t all that pretty. The Witcher family is the house in every neighborhood where the residents leave broken chairs on the porch and piles of trash on the side of the house, a beat-up car left with its hood up at all times. If that’s not bad enough, Jack Witcher is in love with Myra, whose brother Gaylord is missing and who everyone suspects met trouble in the form of Stan, Jack’s brother.
Jack fits nowhere, not with his family, not with the kids at school. In fact, the only person who really pays attention to Jack is Mr. Gladstein, a Jewish jeweler who is also a bit out of place, and for some reason, Jack divulges his love for Myra to Gladstein, who gives him a trinket to win the heart of his girl. Myra doesn’t seem to be anything special, though she sticks up for him once or twice, but as Jack says, “Myra was everything to me, probably because there wasn’t much else.”
When I first opened this book, I was waiting for my Nook upgrade at Barnes & Noble, so of course, I was picking up books every chance I got [Hm. I wonder if this was their ulterior motive]. If Jack’s in LoveÂ was on one of the tables, and I flipped to the first page, and then (as there was some trouble with my Nook), kept flipping until my low back began to hurt and I desperately began missing the nice armchairs that have gone in lieu of some crazy toy area. By the time my Nook was ready, I was hooked.
This is no typical coming-of-age novel. Jack is in a truly precarious position, not only in terms of age, but also because of the family dynamics. Witchers ain’t Snitchers, his dad and brother menacingly warn him again and again, and Jack is party to too much knowledge. What do you do when you’re 13, your dad is planning to commit a crime and your brother already has? Witchers ain’t snitchers. Is loyalty worth more than right? There are moments when Jack is genuinely afraid his father or brother may try to kill him because they know Jack’s just not like them. He is frightened of and for his own family, an alcoholic, violent father, a pot-smoking, sadistic brother, and a mother who has checked out.
If Jack’s in Love is a glimpse into that rundown house, that family who yells at one another and can’t control their kids, and it’s pretty petrifying. Now imagine being one of those kids.
Jack – and I – were simply waiting for the moment when one of those land mines would explode.