January 24, 2012

Book review: The Edumacation of Jay Baker by Jay Clark

Jay Baker’s got trouble, right here in River City. Trouble with a capital T, and that rhymes with B, and that stands for—better luck next time? You got that pop culture reference, right Mr. Baker? After all, the ones you fling at your readers span decades beyond the referential zingers any typical high schooler would have in his arsenal of snark. They also, alas, get in the way of the story you’re trying to tell, making readers take time out of the narrative to figure out just exactly what you’re trying to say.

Having said that, The Edumacation of Jay Baker isn’t all bad. Amidst the overwhelming tide of female voices in teen literature today, it’s always refreshing to have a male protagonist—even if he is angsting over the women in his life in a voice that misses the mark of feeling authentic. His surprisingly strong bond with his older sister is a positive spot too. They snark at each other as most siblings are wont to do, but there’s still a deep love present, and it helps both of them deal with the situation of their parents’ marriage imploding.

The plot itself is nothing new, but nothing bad either. In more capable hands, the family drama and a shifting of affections from one girl to another while not groundbreaking, is not an unwelcome addition to the shelves. This particular book, however, is done in by a mismanagement of words.

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