Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Mostly True Story of Jack Review

The Mostly True Story of Jack

Book talk:  People are always forgetting about Jack.  He has no friends, no enemies, even his family usually looks past him.  So he's not surprised to find out that his mother forgot to call ahead when she drops him off at his aunt and uncle's to spend the summer.  They make room for him, but he can tell he's not wanted.  But there's something strange about this town.  Not only do the people here notice him, but the pets and even his aunt and uncle's house seem to be watching him.  He's excited to make his first friends, but not as thrilled to meet his first bully.  He soon discovers that he has bigger problems though.  Someone dangerous is coming back, and the town has a history of children disappearing.

Rocks my socks:  I enjoyed the fairy tale atmosphere of the story and all the magical elements woven into it.  The way the magic worked so that the town forgot entirely about those who went missing was heartbreaking.  I loved Wendy and how feisty she is and fiercely protective of her brother.  Her brother was an interesting character, you don't read about many elective mutes in children's literature.  The pacing of the novel is fast and a delicious sense of mystery permeates everything.

Rocks in my socks:  There's a lot of troubling implications in the narrative.  Jack's parents divorce just before the story starts and Jack fears that they will forget all about him, a common enough fear for a child going through that.  Except in this story that literally happens.  By the end his family has entirely forgotten that he ever existed.  To make matters worse, it turns out that he was adopted into the family and the portrayal of adoption in the story is absolutely awful.  His adoptive parents don't seem to care about him at all, he never fits in, and eventually Jack sacrifices himself to save the town and goes back to his abusive birth mother, who has been terrorizing the town and stealing children's souls for decades.  Despite this his uncle acts like it's a good thing because 'his true mother is restored to him.'  People often use this language around adoption asking adopted children who their 'true' or 'real' mother is as if the mother who has raised them all of their lives is false.  It's possible that I'm reading too much into this, but it just didn't sit right with me.

Every book its reader:  I'd give this to fans of fantasy and fairy tales 4th grade and up.

Source: ebook from public library

The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill: buy it or check it out today!

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