Themes: Sex, Friendship, Stalkers
Audience: Young Adult
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released: October 30, 2018
By far the most compulsive book I’ve picked up in a while! It’s the kind of book I found difficult to put down, and if there hadn’t been other things I needed to do, I would have finished it in a single sitting. As it was, I devoured it in two. Also, from what I’ve seen of the reviews, Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) is one of those books that polarises readers. It’s bold and daring and utterly unapologetic, and has divided readers into those like me who loved it and those who didn’t.
The thing that stood out for me in particular about this novel was the protagonist. Jack Rothman is your stereotypical queen and proud to be so. He adores makeup, partying, and hanging out with his friends. Most of all, he loves sex and plenty of it. Jack isn’t interested in a boyfriend; he simply wants to have fun. Yet, he’s always careful to avoid hurting anyone, and his experience and compassion make him the ideal candidate to dispense advice when his friend Jenna starts a problem column on her blog.
Then the notes start to appear in Jack’s locker, seemingly harmless love notes at first, but quickly becoming more threatening. Someone out there doesn’t like his heightened popularity or promiscuous lifestyle, and is determined to have him for themselves. Gradually, as the threats grow more destructive, even going so far as to target the people he loves, Jack shrinks into himself. All his sparkle, his cocky self-assurance, ebbs away and I found the change in him truly heartbreaking to watch.
It would be impossible for me to talk about this book without mentioning the sexual content. Actually, I’ve read YA fiction that contains more explicit on-page sex, but Jack’s accounts of his raunchier escapades are graphic to say the least. Several reviewers have expressed the belief that so much detail is inappropriate for a young adult audience, that discussions of anal sex and BDSM have no place in a novel written for teenagers, and I do think they make a valid point.
That said, you would be hard pressed to find a YA story that deals with the issue of sex in such a straightforward and positive way. When teens write to Jack with their relationship problems, he responds with unflinching candour, sharing his most embarrassing and intimate experiences. Most of all, his advice stresses the importance of consent, honesty, and staying safe, and if this is the overriding message young people come away with after reading this book, that surely has to be a good thing.
For a compelling story told with unashamed frankness, and an unforgettable hero who is unafraid to be true to himself, Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by L.C. Rosen gets 10/10 rainbows!
About the Book
My first time getting it in the butt was kind of weird. I think it’s going to be weird for everyone’s first time, though.
Meet Jack Rothman. He’s seventeen and loves partying, makeup and boys – sometimes all at the same time. His sex life makes him the hot topic for the high school gossip machine. But who cares? Like Jack always says, ‘it could be worse’.
He doesn’t actually expect that to come true.
But after Jack starts writing an online sex advice column, the mysterious love letters he’s been getting take a turn for the creepy. Jack’s secret admirer knows everything: where he’s hanging out, who he’s sleeping with, who his mum is dating. They claim they love Jack, but not his unashamedly queer lifestyle. They need him to curb his sexuality, or they’ll force him.
As the pressure mounts, Jack must unmask his stalker before their obsession becomes genuinely dangerous…
About L.C. Rosen
Lev Rosen writes books for people of all ages, most recently Depth and Jack of Hearts (and other parts). His next book, Camp, will be out in May 2020. His books have been sold around the world and translated into different languages as well as being featured on many best of the year lists, and nominated for awards. Lev lives in NYC with his husband and a very small cat.