Jack Kerouac Is Dead to Me
Fifteen-year-old JL Markham's life used to be filled with carnival nights and hot summer days spent giggling with her forever best friend Aubrey about their families and boys. Together, they were unstoppable. But they aren't the friends they once were.With JL's father gone on long term business, and her mother suffering from dissociative disorder, JL takes solace in the in the tropical butterflies she raises, and in her new, older boyfriend, Max Gordon. Max may be rough on the outside, but he has the soul of a poet (something Aubrey will never understand). Only, Max is about to graduate, and he's going to hit the road - with or without JL.JL can't bear being left behind again. But what if devoting herself to Max not only means betraying her parents, but permanently losing the love of her best friend? What becomes of loyalty, when no one is loyal to you?

Jack Kerouac Is Dead to Me Details

TitleJack Kerouac Is Dead to Me
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 7th, 2020
PublisherWednesday Books
ISBN-139781250312235
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Jack Kerouac Is Dead to Me Review

  • Chelsea Humphrey
    January 1, 1970
    "I lie back on his pillow, my head spinning, and for one split second I think how crazy it will be when I get home and tell Aubrey everything. But that's wrong; that won't happen. She and I are barely friends anymore."I don't think I can give this book the proper justice it deserves, but here we go. Jack Kerouac Is Dead to Me reminded me exactly why I adore a well written YA contemporary novel. Gae Polisner's latest story truly transcends age boundaries by giving teens content that is relevant "I lie back on his pillow, my head spinning, and for one split second I think how crazy it will be when I get home and tell Aubrey everything. But that's wrong; that won't happen. She and I are barely friends anymore."I don't think I can give this book the proper justice it deserves, but here we go. Jack Kerouac Is Dead to Me reminded me exactly why I adore a well written YA contemporary novel. Gae Polisner's latest story truly transcends age boundaries by giving teens content that is relevant to their peer group, while also giving adults a sense of nostalgia and dark whimsy regarding past experiences from a time that may or may not have been long ago. *ahem* Part of the reason that I instantly connected with JL and her story was partially due to this book giving me all the vibes of my favorite Sarah Dessen novel, Dreamland. Please note that the plots of these two novels are vastly different, yet both give a hard look at the dark side of young adulthood.The book is written as a letter from Jean Louise (JL) to her childhood best friend Aubrey. Parts are written in the style of a letter, and the rest is filled in as back story flittering between the past and the present. On one hand, JL and Aubrey have fallen apart, and we discover all the juicy reasons why along the course of the book, while also getting a front seat view of JL's budding relationship with Max. She's 15 and a sophomore in high school, and he's 19 and a senior about to graduate, so their relationship raises a few eyebrows. At the root of JL's problems is the fact that her dad has left for an undetermined amount of time, and she's trapped at home with her mentally ill mother, who happens to be obsessed with the fact that JL's Nana once kissed Jack Kerouac. Jean Louise's one outlet is raising butterflies as a hobby, which was a bittersweet and beautiful addition to the mix.One of the things I loved about this book is that it doesn't hold back any punches. I was equally invested in all facets of JL's struggles, and sincerely rooted for her to not only find who she was and be true to herself in the end, but also to find relief as a child in a world that constantly rained down adult problems on her. While this book does deal with some dark themes, and there is some sexual content that may make it more appropriate for the upper end of the YA spectrum, it was handled beautifully and respectfully, and exuded a natural sense of suspense that had me flipping the pages as quickly as possible to see how everything would wrap up. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I was wholly satisfied with the way everything wrapped up, and how some pieces were given closure, but left a little messy. If you're looking for a YA novel that isn't cheesy and deals with hard hitting content, definitely add this one to your TBR this spring!*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
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  • Monica
    January 1, 1970
    Great YA contemporary story about a 15 year old girl and her struggle to find her direction in life while dealing with her mothers mental illness, the loss of a best friend, and having a boyfriend for the first time. The characters are all portrayed with kindness and compassion. I recommend this extremely compelling story to ages 14+ due to some sexual content. *Many thanks to NetGalley and publishers for the advanced readers copy of this book in exchange for my honest review . Great YA contemporary story about a 15 year old girl and her struggle to find her direction in life while dealing with her mother’s mental illness, the loss of a best friend, and having a boyfriend for the first time. The characters are all portrayed with kindness and compassion. I recommend this extremely compelling story to ages 14+ due to some sexual content. *Many thanks to NetGalley and publishers for the advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review .
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  • Carolyn
    January 1, 1970
    This is a contemporary YA novel that will appeal to YA readers. Fifteen year old Jean-Louise (JL) is struggling at home with her father away for work on the other side of the country for 18 months and her mother hardly present, suffering from a dissociative mental disorder. Her mother spends most of her time floating around in kimonos, drinking and writing letters to the dead author, Jack Kerouac. JL's grandmother keeps telling her it will be okay when her father gets home but that's no help to This is a contemporary YA novel that will appeal to YA readers. Fifteen year old Jean-Louise (JL) is struggling at home with her father away for work on the other side of the country for 18 months and her mother hardly present, suffering from a dissociative mental disorder. Her mother spends most of her time floating around in kimonos, drinking and writing letters to the dead author, Jack Kerouac. JL's grandmother keeps telling her it will be okay when her father gets home but that's no help to JL dealing with teenage issues like dating and sex, drinking at parties and falling out with Aubrey, her BFF since they were tiny. Her only solace is raising butterflies and her new boyfriend nineteen year old Max, who is a bit rough around the edges after being raised by his father, but is kind and sensitive.Adolescence is a difficult enough time for any teen, but so much harder for these without parents engaged in guiding them through it and this is an honest look at a teen grappling with a lot of issues on her own. Apart from her mother's mental illness and her father's continued absence, the age difference between JL and Max means she feels pressured to have sex before she feels ready and to be in situations where older teens are encouraging her to join them in drinking and smoking pot. For me there were some issues I didn't feel were properly resolved at the end of the book and could have been dealt with more realistically, but overall this was a well written YA novel. (view spoiler)[ After JL's father returns home, her mother is fine again and the family is happy. What happened to her mental illness? There was also the $7000 that JL stole - surely that was missed as the family is not very wealthy? (hide spoiler)]With thanks to St Martin's Press and Netgalley for a digital ARC to read.
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  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!In the early 60s, JLs grandmother, who was then a young teen, herself, was having dinner with her parents at a restaurant in the town where they lived in Rhode Island. She met Jack Kerouac on her way to the restroom, and received a kiss from the famous author. Since then, her mother and grandmother have been obsessed with this moment, so when JL was born, she was named Jean Louise for Jack Kerouac Jean-Louis Kerouac, and although her mother has never confirmed this, JL is !! NOW AVAILABLE !!In the early 60’s, JL’s grandmother, who was then a young teen, herself, was having dinner with her parents at a restaurant in the town where they lived in Rhode Island. She met Jack Kerouac on her way to the restroom, and received a kiss from the famous author. Since then, her mother and grandmother have been obsessed with this moment, so when JL was born, she was named Jean Louise for Jack Kerouac – Jean-Louis Kerouac, and although her mother has never confirmed this, JL is sure it is true, even though she doesn’t share their fascination with the man. The main part of this story takes place during JL’s sophomore year of high school; her father is working in California, a temporary situation that is prolonged again and again. The longer it is prolonged, the more her mother slips into her depression, which worsens as each promise of I’ll be home in x number of days fails to come true. As more time passes, her mother’s mental state deteriorates even more. Her long-time best friend seems to distance herself, just as a new boyfriend, 19-year-old Max, enters the picture. The only thing that seems to bring JL any sense of purpose or peace, if occasional heartbreaking moments, are the tropical butterflies she raises, the most recent bunch coming from a kit her grandmother-whose-once-young-lips-touched-Kerouac’s-lips bought for her. There is some exploration of the sexual tensions between Max and JL as time passes, at fifteen she doesn’t feel that she’s ready for sex – she’s waiting for her sixteenth birthday - and at nineteen he is somewhat impatient for it. I wanted to read this since I’d really loved Gae Polisner’s The Memory of Things, one of the first stories I’d read about 9-11. While I enjoyed this, and loved the moments when the focus was on the butterflies, moments when it felt that she was focused only on them, their beauty, what they represented to her, and the way her focus on their well being offered respite from her mother’s deteriorating state of mind as time passed. The butterfly premise also coinciding with JL’s sense of self as a young woman trying to determine how to deal with her emerging, if somewhat conflicted, feelings about sex. Pub Date: 07 APR 2020Many thanks for the ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press
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  • Larry H
    January 1, 1970
    Arent friends and family supposed to be there for you? Why do you have to face things alone?In Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me , JL (short for Jean-Louise) is 15, and at a time when shes supposed to be experiencing the carefree fun of being a teenager, her life is full of angst and worry, including and beyond the typical teenager stuff.Her mother suffers from a dissociative disorder, which leaves her often depressed or in a fog, writing letters to someone who no longer exists. Her father has been Aren’t friends and family supposed to be there for you? Why do you have to face things alone?In Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me , JL (short for Jean-Louise) is 15, and at a time when she’s supposed to be experiencing the carefree fun of being a teenager, her life is full of angst and worry, including and beyond the typical teenager stuff.Her mother suffers from a dissociative disorder, which leaves her often depressed or in a fog, writing letters to someone who no longer exists. Her father has been out of town on business for months, which only adds to her mother’s despair.No one seems to notice that JL’s childhood best friend Aubrey has shunned her, or that JL is dating Max, a 19-year-old senior who seems rough around the edges but is far more intelligent than anyone realizes. The only thing that gives JL peace of mind is spending time with the tropical butterflies she raises.Max wants to go to California when he graduates, and wants JL to come with him. Of course, she can’t leave her mother alone, can she? Would anyone notice? At what point should she think of her own happiness before others?As Max starts making plans to leave, and her mother slips further and further into despair, JL doesn’t know what to choose. When there’s no one to guide you, how do you decide?This is a poignant, beautifully written book about the fragility of young friendship, the challenges of having to take responsibility for your parents when you’re still a child, the secrets we keep hidden from ourselves and others, and the feeling that you’re all alone, and no one is there to help you. Gae Polisner so adroitly captures those emotions.My only quibble with the book is the way the narration meanders. One chapter takes place in middle school, one in the present, one in the slightly recent past—it took a little while to get used to. But Polisner—whose previous books (especially The Memory of Things ) blew me away—keeps you hooked on this story.I am grateful to have been part of the blog tour for this book. Thanks to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for giving me an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. The book publishes 4/7!Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html. Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html.See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
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  • ♕ rayne ♕
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars This book made me feel so many emotions all at once. It left me conflicted, hurt, betrayed, and wanting more. This novel is a raw and gritty portrayal of a teens life, and the struggles they have to face each day. The conflicts that arose in this book left me feeling inexplicably sad, and questioning everything.I honestly cant find the words to explain my fascination with this book. Some topics that were mentioned and issues portrayed hit me like a train, and gave me nostalgia and 4.5 stars This book made me feel so many emotions all at once. It left me conflicted, hurt, betrayed, and wanting more. This novel is a raw and gritty portrayal of a teen’s life, and the struggles they have to face each day. The conflicts that arose in this book left me feeling inexplicably sad, and questioning everything.I honestly can’t find the words to explain my fascination with this book. Some topics that were mentioned and issues portrayed hit me like a train, and gave me nostalgia and left a bad taste in my mouth. I found myself relating to the protagonist a lot, who I thought was a realistic portal of a teen, confused and conflicted. I loved this story. It truly made me sit down and think. It impacted me in a million ways and I questioned everyone in this novel.I love books that rip my heart out and ruin my state of mind. And I never thought i’d find that in a YA novel that I assumed would be a sweet romance/coming of age or something along those lines. There’s nothing wrong with those books either, but this was so much more than that. It dealt with real issues. It showed life through a teen’s lens, and never hid the dark bits that lurk beneath everyone’s story. I think that’s what I truly loved about this novel, it didn’t sugar-coat anything. Everything was left out in the open to judge. Mistakes were made. Battles were lost. Memories were re-lived. And love tied them all together. Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. instagram | blog | goodreads
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  • Aga Durka
    January 1, 1970
    Adolescence years can be hard on most teenagers, and can be even more challenging when there is no one to guide a young mind throughout these confusing years. JL is a 15-year-old that is struggling not only with staying on track with school and her social life but she is also dealing with her moms mental illness. Her father is absent, working away across the country, her best friend abandoned her when she needed her the most, and her first and older boyfriend is having his own troubles that Adolescence years can be hard on most teenagers, and can be even more challenging when there is no one to guide a young mind throughout these confusing years. JL is a 15-year-old that is struggling not only with staying on track with school and her social life but she is also dealing with her mom’s mental illness. Her father is absent, working away across the country, her best friend abandoned her when she needed her the most, and her first and older boyfriend is having his own troubles that quickly start to affect JL’s way of thinking and dealing with daily challenges.This book is about first love, broken bonds, and betrayal. Written in a beautiful style, a letter from JL to her best friend, Aubrey, with some very intriguing insight in the life of butterflies, which became JL’s escape from reality and quickly blend into JL’s own story of loss, love and new beginnings.Everything is screwed up. Even when I’m happy, I feel bad. Nothing is simple. Nothing feels okay. And I can’t remember a time when it didThank you NetGalley, Wednesday Books, and the author for providing me with an ARC copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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  • Kelly Hager
    January 1, 1970
    I could spend literally every minute between now and its release date---April 7---trying to write this review, and I still wouldn't be able to do this book justice.First, you should know that this book isn't for everyone. It's dark and deals with hard topics and it will break your heart. It's more Cameron Crowe than John Hughes, and when I say that, I mean great Cameron Crowe (Fast Times at Ridgemont High or Say Anything Cameron Crowe, not Aloha Cameron Crowe). I love everything about this book. I could spend literally every minute between now and its release date---April 7---trying to write this review, and I still wouldn't be able to do this book justice.First, you should know that this book isn't for everyone. It's dark and deals with hard topics and it will break your heart. It's more Cameron Crowe than John Hughes, and when I say that, I mean great Cameron Crowe (Fast Times at Ridgemont High or Say Anything Cameron Crowe, not Aloha Cameron Crowe). I love everything about this book. I love that JL is trying so hard to hold her life together with basically zero help from anyone (her dad's gone, her mom's useless and her grandmother is pretending so hard that everything's normal that she can't see how awful things really are). Max is great but that's its own complication (he is causing problems with JL's best friend and also he wants to have sex and she's not ready). And the person she's most used to counting on, her best friend Aubrey, is becoming a total jerk. It's all the worst for her.Ellen Hopkins once wrote a YA novel that featured one character and then an adult novel that featured that character's mother. I mention that because I would really like an adult novel about Nana. (You probably thought I'd say JL's mom, right? Nope. I want historical fiction about Nana.) And I would like a sequel so I know what happens with JL. I hope it's amazing and she ends up finding her people. (I think she does.)When I first met Gae, I was reading The Pull of Gravity (her first novel) and basically live Tweeting my reactions to her. That's how we became friends. This reading experience was very different. I didn't put the book down until toward the end and even then, it was only for two seconds. I loved TPOG but this is a whole different experience. I didn't want to leave the story, even only long enough to tell her how much I loved it.This story is such an amazing gift, I can't even tell you. I don't read perfect novels very often but this is one. Highly recommended.
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  • Jypsy
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you Wednesday Books for an advanced copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own. Jack Kerouac Is Dead To MeBy: Gae Polisner REVIEW ☆☆☆☆Once upon a time, in a freshman literature class, I made a total fool of myself by mispronouncing Kerouac. I never made that mistake again, and I've been a fan of his work ever since. So, obviously, I had to read Jack Kerouac Is Dead To Me. Written partially as a letter and alternating between past and present, this is the Thank you Wednesday Books for an advanced copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own. Jack Kerouac Is Dead To MeBy: Gae Polisner REVIEW ☆☆☆☆Once upon a time, in a freshman literature class, I made a total fool of myself by mispronouncing Kerouac. I never made that mistake again, and I've been a fan of his work ever since. So, obviously, I had to read Jack Kerouac Is Dead To Me. Written partially as a letter and alternating between past and present, this is the story of 15 year old JL (Jean-Louis). Her father is absent, working across the country, promising to come home, but he never does. His leaving was the catalyst for JL's mother's decline into deep depression and now, a dissociative disorder. I guess you could say both parents are absent. JL had a best friend, Aubrey, who has lately distanced herself. JL does have one person, Max, her 19 year old boyfriend. Can you guess what he wants? He's going to California after graduation, and JL wants to go with him, despite his constant pressure to sleep with him. Otherwise, JL raises beautiful butterflies, and they are a great comfort to her. There is such sadness in this story. JL's mother drinks, writes letters to the deceased Kerouac, doesn't know where she is most of the time and flits around the house like a wounded butterfly. JL mends a broken butterfly wing, but there is no mending her mother. I despised her father as a self centered jerk. Who just leaves like that? There were moments when I wanted to shake some sense into this girl. But, she's 15, alone, desperate for love, affection, an escape, because things are terrible. Every time JL reaches for something that might make her life better, the universe slaps her down again. In the midst of this, she makes some bad choices, but I don't blame her. It's painful and emotionally hollowing to read the trauma she experienced. I disliked the ending. It's rushed, and no spoilers, but something major happens and is glossed over like it's okay and never happened. JL is content with it, but there is no way a 15 year old is mature enough to be fine after all that. Life would not go on as it does in the book. This story is cutting, devastating, relentlessly truthful and so relevant for older young adult readers(due to language and sexual content). Definitely worth reading!Find my reviews at https://www.instagram.com/jypsylynn
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  • Kathryn in FL
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 StarsJack Kerouac is the center of JL's (Jean Louise's) mother's obsession, his imposition in their lives is a barrier in their relationship. Leaving JL to find her way through a tangle of emotions, as she navigates her first serious relationship and sexual identity. The story was interesting and realistic. The writing was a joy to read, very fluid and clear. Butterflies are incorporated into the story a reflection of the transformation from a child to metamorphosis into adulthood.JL learns 3.5 StarsJack Kerouac is the center of JL's (Jean Louise's) mother's obsession, his imposition in their lives is a barrier in their relationship. Leaving JL to find her way through a tangle of emotions, as she navigates her first serious relationship and sexual identity. The story was interesting and realistic. The writing was a joy to read, very fluid and clear. Butterflies are incorporated into the story a reflection of the transformation from a child to metamorphosis into adulthood.JL learns some very difficult lessons though she didn't seem to fazed by them nor react as one might expect. This seemed a bit unrealistic based on several challenges she faced and the level of betrayals she suffers.JL's exploration into intimacy is fraught with inner turmoil. The experiences are detailed and descriptive though not as graphic as some stories, it certainly is not PG. Thus, it is pretty realistic. Max, her boyfriend is not the sleaze from the bad side of town, but he wouldn't be a parent's dream for their child either.The ending was disappointing for me. It felt abrupt, hurried and incomplete. I am unsure what even happens in the conclusion. In fact it was very vague as though someone else wrote it and wasn't sure what to say. Perhaps that is close to the what happened since I am reading the advance reading copy? I hope so because the rest of the story was enjoyable.Thank you to the publisher, the author and Goodreads for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion. All views are my own.
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  • Michele Knott
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not sure I can put into words how much I loved this book.The blurb on the front cover of the ARC uses the words "real, raw, emotional" and I agree completely.If you grew up in the 80s you grew up reading Judy Blume. And while there was the Judy Blume of the middle grade years, there was the next step up of Judy Blume - Tiger Eyes and Forever. Both of those books gave readers a window or a mirror into their lives. A mirror of what existed, maybe in the darkest corners of minds and thoughts, I'm not sure I can put into words how much I loved this book.The blurb on the front cover of the ARC uses the words "real, raw, emotional" and I agree completely.If you grew up in the 80s you grew up reading Judy Blume. And while there was the Judy Blume of the middle grade years, there was the next step up of Judy Blume - Tiger Eyes and Forever. Both of those books gave readers a window or a mirror into their lives. A mirror of what existed, maybe in the darkest corners of minds and thoughts, or a window into what the reader was thinking and wondering and asking.This book is going to be this generation's book.Because teenage readers will see themselves within the main character, JL. Or they will see something they are wondering about, or thinking, or the possibilities of something. Readers will see the uncertainties of friendships, the exploration of sexuality and the many questions that go along with it, the ramifications of absent parents and parents who have their own demons to fight. JL is such a complex character but it was so easy to slide into her shoes and feel such familiarity of her life, regardless of how far away it was from my own. Polisner's writing is gut-wrenching, raw, and yet will leave you feeling she saw into your own teenage heart and mind.Do not miss this book. Do not miss putting it in the hands of teenage readers, as well as adults.
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  • Erin (erinevelynreads)
    January 1, 1970
    Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me follows Jean Louise Markham, J.L., a fifteen-year-old girl who is obsessed with butterflies and just trying to figure out her life. Currently her father is on an extended business trip in California, and her mother is suffering with a dissociative disorder. Her best friend Aubrey has two new best friends and is pulling away from her. The only one seemingly on her side is her boyfriend Max, a senior who plans to drive across the country to California on his motorcycle Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me follows Jean Louise Markham, J.L., a fifteen-year-old girl who is obsessed with butterflies and just trying to figure out her life. Currently her father is on an extended business trip in California, and her mother is suffering with a dissociative disorder. Her best friend Aubrey has two new best friends and is pulling away from her. The only one seemingly on her side is her boyfriend Max, a senior who plans to drive across the country to California on his motorcycle when he graduates. As they get closer to the end of the school year, J.L. decides to join Max on his cross-country, throwing caution to the wind, and risking everything.Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me is told entirely in the first person from J.L.'s perspective. I really liked her character. She is such a dynamic character. I especially enjoyed listening to her talk about the different types of butterflies she is raising, their lifecycles more or less corresponding to her life.I liked Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me, but I didn't love it. I enjoyed how it handled the themes of loneliness and abandonment and I really liked the main character, J.L.. However, I found the plot a bit confusing. It didn't really seem to be going in any particular direction and felt rather scattered.Thank you to Netgalley and Wednesday Books for my review copy! All opinions are my own.
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    Some may believe this is "make-believe", but Gae Polisner's new story, out next April, shows one girl's life in all its reality; all its hopes, some horribly dashed; yet, she keeps on, making choices that are "right" for her. Will you agree with every part? Perhaps not, but in the turmoil of this young teen whose father is away for work longer and longer, whose mother is drifting away in a heart-breaking mental disorder, and whose bestie Aubrey has drifted on to other girlfriends, readers will Some may believe this is "make-believe", but Gae Polisner's new story, out next April, shows one girl's life in all its reality; all its hopes, some horribly dashed; yet, she keeps on, making choices that are "right" for her. Will you agree with every part? Perhaps not, but in the turmoil of this young teen whose father is away for work longer and longer, whose mother is drifting away in a heart-breaking mental disorder, and whose bestie Aubrey has drifted on to other girlfriends, readers will cling with her as they wish her better days. JL writes her story in a long journal/letter to Aubrey about everything that has happened since the two stopped being friends. It moves back and forth in time, layer upon layer. JL Markham is fifteen, now finding some pleasant hours with the tropical butterflies she has recently been raising, and in Max, a new love, but an older senior who'll be leaving town soon. The age gap is of some concern, but Max seems JL's only anchor at this time. The plight of a young girl with few people to turn to fills us readers with worry, something we all might consider if we have the time to take with a young person. Polisner has offered much to ponder in this book! Questioning, questioning is part of what Gae Polisner shows JL doing: Should she leave with Max? Can she leave her mother without anyone to care for her? How can she find her special friendship with Aubrey again? How far can she go sexually to show she loves Max? The inner turmoil shown with JL telling her story is poignant, feels very real to me, although I suspect teens hide problems too well from the adults in their lives, perhaps the biggest tragedy? And perhaps adults should be reading this story, too?
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  • Liza Wiemer
    January 1, 1970
    I was very fortunate to get my hands on an advanced reader copy. And I couldn't put this book down.It's gritty, raw, and deals with some important and tough issues like betrayal (friends/boyfriends/parents), mental illness, adulting/parenting - or the lack of - and finding the strength to face a crisis and make decisions that are empowering and "right" for you.This may very well be Gae's best book. The writing is nuanced, emotional, and will leave you pondering the choices the characters' make I was very fortunate to get my hands on an advanced reader copy. And I couldn't put this book down.It's gritty, raw, and deals with some important and tough issues like betrayal (friends/boyfriends/parents), mental illness, adulting/parenting - or the lack of - and finding the strength to face a crisis and make decisions that are empowering and "right" for you.This may very well be Gae's best book. The writing is nuanced, emotional, and will leave you pondering the choices the characters' make and also reflecting on your own life.Who hasn't struggled? It's not easy to stick up for yourself, especially when the people who are supposed to love you are the ones who hurt you the most. Where do you find the courage to go on?This novel is a must-read for anyone who loves realistic contemporary fiction. Brava, Gae!
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    This book captures the things so many teens are grappling with. Friendship. Family. Belonging. Feeling things and not always understanding why. Processing change--because everything is changing. Your body, your thoughts, your friendships, your dreams. JL, at 15, is dealing with all of that and just like the butterflies she's passionate about: constantly evolving. "I liked how it felt to be out of control, a moth on a carnival ride, ready to be swept off by the wind, every tenuous hair, every This book captures the things so many teens are grappling with. Friendship. Family. Belonging. Feeling things and not always understanding why. Processing change--because everything is changing. Your body, your thoughts, your friendships, your dreams. JL, at 15, is dealing with all of that and just like the butterflies she's passionate about: constantly evolving. "I liked how it felt to be out of control, a moth on a carnival ride, ready to be swept off by the wind, every tenuous hair, every fiber, every quivering speck of me, lit up, on end, and electrified." A beautifully written story as you know to expect if you've read Gae's other novels.
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  • Jackie
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book in a good reads giveaway. Very interesting book! I really enjoyed it
  • Energy
    January 1, 1970
    JL lives at home with her parents, only her father has been mia for a while working in California. The fact that his job keeps extending his stay out there is taking its toll on her mother, who is drinking a lot. In addition to her drinking, she's writing letters to Kerouac when she's lucid enough to do so. JL's grandmother had a very brief encounter with the author when he was alive and so JL's mother has a bit of an obsession with him. That obsession is resulting in multiple letters being sent JL lives at home with her parents, only her father has been mia for a while working in California. The fact that his job keeps extending his stay out there is taking its toll on her mother, who is drinking a lot. In addition to her drinking, she's writing letters to Kerouac when she's lucid enough to do so. JL's grandmother had a very brief encounter with the author when he was alive and so JL's mother has a bit of an obsession with him. That obsession is resulting in multiple letters being sent to him a week. It's all too much for JL and so she escapes into a world with her friends and her boyfriend Max. Though her friendship with Aubrey has gone south too as she doesn't much care for him, the age gap, or his drinking and smoking pot. He's a bit of a bad boy, a 19-year-old bad boy to JL's 15. And because she doesn't have Aubrey to lean on, JL unhealthily latches onto Max as she has no one to hang out with. There aren't a ton of reviews out as I'm writing my own but I'm a bit surprised that no one else is writing about the age gap. Max calls her jailbait which is disrespectful, and he gets her to smoke pot. Despite him saying he's willing to wait for her to be ready to have sex, he isn't really willing as he brings it up *a lot*. A girl at 15 is going through vastly different things than a guy at 19, and it's a shame that there is no one in JL's life outside of Aubrey who is expressing concern about her relationship. (and I get people will defend this and say they're just two kids, age doesn't matter, etc), but not only can I not get on board with it, I feel sad that JL didn't have more support (especially seeing her mother liked Max without really knowing him). Aside from the age problem, I think this was very well-written. JL has a lot of great insight regarding her life. Polisner touched on a lot of topics including teen dating, sex, mental illness, being quasi-raised by a single parent, and alcohol. I thought the way she posed the book as JL writing a journal length letter to Aubrey about everything that has happened since the two stopped being friends was a unique way to write the book.
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  • Sahar
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book courtesy of NetGalley as an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All quotes come from that ARC and not a published book. At the time I'm writing this, the book has not been released.Trigger warnings: mentions of underage sex, attempted coercive sex, mental illness, butterfly deaths.I always debate whether to give a book I rate 4.5/5 stars four or five stars on here. I'm erring towards 5, because I really loved it and the more I thought about all the elements of it, the more I received this book courtesy of NetGalley as an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All quotes come from that ARC and not a published book. At the time I'm writing this, the book has not been released.Trigger warnings: mentions of underage sex, attempted coercive sex, mental illness, butterfly deaths.I always debate whether to give a book I rate 4.5/5 stars four or five stars on here. I'm erring towards 5, because I really loved it and the more I thought about all the elements of it, the more I decided it's closer to 5 than 4 stars. When I finished this book, the first thing I thought was that I had, well, a lot of thoughts on this book. There's so much to untangle here. Here's the thing about this book that really ripped my heart out: the predictable ending would have been bad enough. It would have been sad enough. It would have probably made you cry. But the way Gae ends this? If I'd had a physical book I would have been torn between throwing it across the room and sighing in relief that JL didn't do what I thought she was inevitably headed towards. JL is whip-smart, but she's very much still a child, and the parts that were hardest to read, were the way she was failed, again and again, by people she should have been able to trust. Which, in turn, is the precise reason she doesn't talk to her friends or family about her older, inappropriate, manipulative boyfriend. In case it's not clear, I don't approve of JL's boyfriend. Under no circumstances should a 19-year-old be dating a 15-year-old. He calls her "Jailbait" (supposedly ironically, if I remember correctly, but still), even. But because of the way society is, sexism and misogyny being what it is, I felt it really resonated how most of JL's friends blamed the relationship on JL. Because the girl had to be the Jezebel--which was what made the butterflies so perfect, obviously. The butterflies. I can't get over the butterflies. JL raises butterflies, a fact we are introduced to very early on in the story. Her grandmother purchases them for her, as an early sixteenth birthday present, because she insists that "a girl should have something truly special and beautiful when she turns sixteen." Early on, she did this with her friend, Aubrey, and her boyfriend, Max. But as the story goes on, Aubrey shows up less and less, and Max more and more. It's as if she's replacing one confidant for another, one great love for the next. Aubrey hates Max, and eventually, as a consequence, becomes a shadow character, simultaneously JL's conscious and someone JL desperately wants back, but can't stand on many levels. Honestly, there's a lot of sapphic sub-text. One line, in particular, caught my eye: "We are giddy with summer, with each other." I mean, come on--that's gay.Something that isn't a huge key plot point but that I appreciated--JL is Jewish. Her grandmother mentions it in a story while talking about an argument with her mother about not marrying someone Jewish. I don't think it's mentioned again, but it's just really nice to have representation even if it's not a big part of the story. The title of the book isn't a play on words or an obscure reference that comes up once--it's a key theme. All the women in her family were, at one point, in love with Jack Kerouac in one manner or another. Even Max is in love with him, in love with the romance of the road, while JL just wants to escape things that aren't okay in her life. She's not really in love with the road. She could care less about Kerouac. Hence the title. At some point, JL kills the last remnants of his presence in her family, which you'll see in the book, which I've hopefully convinced you to read.
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  • Sakhile
    January 1, 1970
    You know when you read a book and it leaves you feeling a little unsettled but not in a bad way? Thats what this book did to me. I added this book to my TBR back in 2018 because I was into On The Road by Jack Kerouac. Its a very raw and emotional book about mothers and daughters, friendships and falling in love for the first time.Admittedly, I was not a fan of the romantic relationship in this book from the word go but I think that was the authors intention. JL is fifteen and dating a You know when you read a book and it leaves you feeling a little unsettled but not in a bad way? That’s what this book did to me. I added this book to my TBR back in 2018 because I was into On The Road by Jack Kerouac. It’s a very raw and emotional book about mothers and daughters, friendships and falling in love for the first time.Admittedly, I was not a fan of the romantic relationship in this book from the word go but I think that was the author’s intention. JL is fifteen and dating a nineteen-year-old bad boy. Her mother is struggling with a mental illness, her father is away on business and she’s drifting apart from her best friend.
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  • Tiffany
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 rounded up
  • Megan Morris
    January 1, 1970
    A special thanks to Wednesday Books, Netgalley, Meghan Harrington, and Gae Polishner (the author) for giving me the opportunity to read Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me before its release. All opinions are my own. I tried to like this book, I really did. The cover is beautiful and I loved the idea of a coming of age story about a main character whose mother struggles with mental health as my own did growing up. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations and I had to really push myself to A special thanks to Wednesday Books, Netgalley, Meghan Harrington, and Gae Polishner (the author) for giving me the opportunity to read Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me before its release. All opinions are my own. I tried to like this book, I really did. The cover is beautiful and I loved the idea of a coming of age story about a main character whose mother struggles with mental health as my own did growing up. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations and I had to really push myself to finish it when I should have probably made it my first DNF because it made me kind of mad. The timeline was all over the place and in moments when I felt like I could have grown invested, it switched to something I didn’t care about and by the time I was back to where I wanted to be in it, I didn’t care as much. The love interest was a piece of shit, I couldn’t stand all the girl hate and the slut shaming, the only times JL spoke to an adult she was either getting judged or ignored essentially so she didn’t really have anyone to turn to, and there was so much I wanted resolved and it just did not happen - at least not in any type of way I would have liked. Based on other reviews I’ve seen online already, my opinion is more on the unpopular side so if you wish to add this to your tbr, the release is set for April 7, 2020.
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  • Lindsi (Do You Dog-ear?)
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me was incredibly depressing, and left every single issue unresolved at the end. Why??? It didn't make me feel hopeful, or think that things might finally be okay for JL. I'm angry, frustrated, and wish that something more significant had happened for the main I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me was incredibly depressing, and left every single issue unresolved at the end. Why??? It didn't make me feel hopeful, or think that things might finally be okay for JL. I'm angry, frustrated, and wish that something more significant had happened for the main character. Basically, she's dismissed and taken advantage of over and over again, and by the people who are supposed to care about her the most.JL's dad was absent. He left his family for work and money (his contract was repeatedly extended), and I never fully understood why he left them behind to begin with. When my husband deployed last year, we didn't have the option of going with him. JL and her mother could have moved to California with her dad until he was finished with his contractual obligations, but they chose not to. Instead, JL's father leaves his daughter with his disassociating wife, and just assumes everything is okay despite being told otherwise.JL's grandmother has her head in the sand, and refuses to admit things are actually as bad as they seem, so there's no one on JL's side helping her through this. She's stuck at home dealing with her mother, who is often not firmly in this reality. No child should have to deal with that.On top of everything, JL's boyfriend is constantly pressuring her to have sex, and to just be more sexual in general. She's clearly stated that she's not ready, but he still tries to talk her into it. She thinks it's sweet that he wants her so much, and I hated that she couldn't see how pushy he was being. It was like he was trying to make her feel guilty about not doing it, and she wanted to make him happy. Additionally, he's 19 and she's 15, so I had issues with that as well. I know it happens, but a 15-year old is not on the same physical, mental, or emotional level as a 19-year old. Max also uses JL for money, and eventually betrays her in the worst possible way. Something she doesn't even admit to herself until long after it occurs. I was disgusted by his behavior, and that he constantly took advantage of his "Jailbait". Yep. His nickname for JL was Jailbait. Cute, right?JL's former best friend is equally as bad, and don't even get me started on her parents. They knew JL, and they knew what kind of living situation she was in, but they never offered to help. They didn't even ask how she was doing, or question if there was something they could be doing for her. The people in this book sucked. They sucked big hairy balls! Aubrey (the former best friend) chose to make new friends instead, and simply cut JL out. Why? Her parents thought JL's living situation would be a bad influence on their daughter, like her mother's mental illness was contagious. Fucking morons.Even the motherfucking mailman knew something was wrong with JL's mom, yet he did nothing. Every single person in this book failed JL in one way or another, and I hate that she had to live like that. She was such a caring person, especially with her butterflies, but there was no one in her corner. She finally does something drastic, which also blows up in her face, but at least it gets her dad's attention. Skip forward a few months, and... nothing. Nothing has changed. There's zero resolution. Why did JL suffer through all of that heartache? Is her mom finally going to get the help she needs? Did JL really mail that letter to who I think she did? If so, that makes zero sense. Especially since the book is written like she's explaining things to Aubrey.Aargh! I'm feeling really down after reading this book, and I honestly have no idea what kind of point the author was trying to make. That people can be shitty? That you never know what someone else is dealing with? Don't judge others? I think JL deserves a lot better, and I'm very unhappy with where the author left things. (★★⋆☆☆) Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Bloglovin' | Amazon | Pinterest
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  • Sophie
    January 1, 1970
    I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way impacted on my view.In Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me, we follow 15 year old JL, who is juggling her absent father, her bipolar and dissociating mother, her lost friendship with Aubrey, and her new relationship with 19 year old Max. She can't wait for her dad to come home, after working away for so long, and for her mother to hopefully become more there, and not as absent as she is. She thought her friendship with I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way impacted on my view.In Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me, we follow 15 year old JL, who is juggling her absent father, her bipolar and dissociating mother, her lost friendship with Aubrey, and her new relationship with 19 year old Max. She can't wait for her dad to come home, after working away for so long, and for her mother to hopefully become more there, and not as absent as she is. She thought her friendship with Aubrey would weather anything, but now that she's with Max, who has his own reputation, Aubrey acts as if she's a Jezebel, just the name of her new butterflies. As real life seems to get too much for her, she plans to leave after Max graduates, and the two of them heading off to California, riding off into the sunset on his restored bike. What possibly could go wrong?Quite honestly, this book was one of the worst I have ever read, if not the worst. The only reason why I forced myself to read it, and I powered through it in one day, was because I'm part of the blog tour, and I couldn't DNF it in good conscious. JL is an awful main character, and I was sick to death of her by the end. She complains about her mother constantly, but if anyone else says anything, she clams up. She's only 15, and knows that when she turns 16, she's going to sleep with her 19 year old boyfriend, who regularly calls her Jailbait - it's disgusting. And to make matters worse, right at the end of the book, it seems as if Max actually slept with her mother after prom, when JL was too drunk on the absinthe he gave her.The book jumps around all the time, too, from the past to the present, and that was just the final straw really. I didn't want to have to spend so long getting my head around where we were in the story, especially not when I wasn't even invested in it. I've been scrolling through Goodreads, reading some of the glowing reviews, and I'm actually astounded by how many positive reviews there are, because I can't comprehend how or why anyone would like this. Really, the 6 hours or so I spent on it were a complete waste of time, and I wish I could take it back. Definitely a book I won't be recommending!
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  • Susan Ballard
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to @stmartinspress and @wednesdaybooks for this advance copy for review.Remember when being best friends meant lying in the grass on summer days giggling about boys and sharing your deepest secrets? Yeah, so does JL Markham.JL and Aubrey are best friends until Aubs starts hanging with those other girls in high school. Now they snicker at JL when she walks by. Thats okay, she still has her butterflies and Max. Yeah, JL raises beautiful, tropical butterflies - she loves to watch them Thank you to @stmartinspress and @wednesdaybooks for this advance copy for review.Remember when being best friends meant lying in the grass on summer days giggling about boys and sharing your deepest secrets? Yeah, so does JL Markham.JL and Aubrey are best friends until Aubs starts hanging with those other girls in high school. Now they snicker at JL when she walks by. That’s okay, she still has her butterflies and Max. Yeah, JL raises beautiful, tropical butterflies - she loves to watch them come out of their chrysalis and spread their wings. She’s also started dating Max Gordon, a senior. Sure he’s older, experienced, and rides a motorcycle, but he knows poetry and books - things Aubrey and those other girls don’t see in him.Maybe JL turned to Max because she has no one else. Her father is away on business, indefinitely, and her mother, though stunning, is suffering from a mental illness. Now Max is talking about taking off for California after he graduates. Where does that leave JL? And is her friendship with Aubrey really over, forever? When rumors fly about her mother and her own reputation, JL finds she is standing alone; betrayed by those she thought cared. She will have to make some decisions and stand up for herself; it’s time she spread her own wings.This story took me back to my youth, especially to my female friendships. It reminded me how deep and meaningful they were, but at the same time, how very delicate they could be. The heartbreaking theme of this book is the fragility of loyalties. This is a very compelling and gritty look at adolescent friendships, young love, and family conflict.Get your copy today! 🦋
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  • Michele
    January 1, 1970
    I really found Jack Kerouac Is Dead to Me to be a fascinating book. It was what I would deem to be a mature YA because it did contain some sexual content. The story revolved around 15 year old, JL (Jean Louise) who was trying to find her way through a difficult home life while her father was working in another city and his return home was questionable. In the midst of this, JL's mother is battling mental illness. All the while, JL is trying to navigate her way through high school after losing I really found Jack Kerouac Is Dead to Me to be a fascinating book. It was what I would deem to be a mature YA because it did contain some sexual content. The story revolved around 15 year old, JL (Jean Louise) who was trying to find her way through a difficult home life while her father was working in another city and his return home was questionable. In the midst of this, JL's mother is battling mental illness. All the while, JL is trying to navigate her way through high school after losing her best friend but gaining a new boyfriend. The issues dealt with in this book are real and gritty. It wasn't fluffy and cutesy. In the end, I, personally, felt like the storyline for the secondary characters was wrapped up. However, I felt like JL's story was still very much up in the air and unresolved. I just wanted something more for her.Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    This is a book I would have loved as a teen. Raw, realistic fiction based on teenage angst. JL is on the cusp of adulthood with her looming 16th birthday. Her hippy parents have always raised her different from her friends, but she has always had her best friend Aubrey by her side. Her father cleans up his act and his new job sends him to far-off California, with a promise that he will be home in 6 months, and then another, and still another. JL's mother is not handling the separation well, and This is a book I would have loved as a teen. Raw, realistic fiction based on teenage angst. JL is on the cusp of adulthood with her looming 16th birthday. Her hippy parents have always raised her different from her friends, but she has always had her best friend Aubrey by her side. Her father cleans up his act and his new job sends him to far-off California, with a promise that he will be home in 6 months, and then another, and still another. JL's mother is not handling the separation well, and wanders around the house beautiful, but lost without her husband. JL is left fending for herself, with the partial support of her grandmother who refuses to see the seriousness of JL's mother's condition, but who also supports her granddaughter in her quest and love of butterflies. JL has always been dependent on the love and support of her best-friend Aubrey. Aubrey's family is loving and supportive, yet JL finds herself and Aubrey not such great friends in high school years, especially because JL's family is falling apart and JL has too little adult supervision. JL falls in love with bad-boy Max, and she tries to cope with her growing love for him, the loss of her best friend, the loss of her father and her mother's worsening condition. This is the story of hope, of growing up, facing changed friendships, falling in love, and experiencing glimpses of who we are meant to be along the way. It's beautifully written, full of both hope and despair, and also of the joys and sorrows the world can provide.
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  • Julie Jaeger
    January 1, 1970
    Intense. And great. Will write an actual review later!OK, sometimes I just need to sit on a book (not literally) before I can put my thoughts into words. First, I LOVE Gae Polisner books. Every. Single. One. And Jack Kerouac Is Dead to Me is no exception. Polisner paints a word picture that gets me every time. There are times I just have to stop and re-read a sentence to appreciate her word craft. One of my favorite things about her writing is that every story is a stand alone, and so different Intense. And great. Will write an actual review later!OK, sometimes I just need to sit on a book (not literally) before I can put my thoughts into words. First, I LOVE Gae Polisner books. Every. Single. One. And Jack Kerouac Is Dead to Me is no exception. Polisner paints a word picture that gets me every time. There are times I just have to stop and re-read a sentence to appreciate her word craft. One of my favorite things about her writing is that every story is a stand alone, and so different from the last. Jack Kerouac Is Dead to Me has a lot going on. There are jumps in time as the story unfolds, moving back and forth in JL's life. The love story is realistic and raw, and very YA, especially considering that JL is fifteen while Max is 19. JL's memories of her relationship with Aubrey made me think back to my own childhood friendships. JL's mother is dealing with some kind of mental illness. It is dark, and definitely Polisner's most YA book to date. Looking for beautiful writing that makes you stop and think? Jack Kerouac Is Dead to Me is all of that!
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  • Samantha (WLABB)
    January 1, 1970
    Rating: 3.5 StarsWhen her father sold his business, things were supposed to get better, not worse. But, when his contract took him to California for an extended period of time, JL's mother began to slip deeper and deeper into her depression. Not only did JL have to deal with her dissociative mother, she was also losing her best friend, and being judged harshly for her mother's behavior and for dating an older boy. Though her boyfriend was often her quiet in the storm, he was also a source of Rating: 3.5 StarsWhen her father sold his business, things were supposed to get better, not worse. But, when his contract took him to California for an extended period of time, JL's mother began to slip deeper and deeper into her depression. Not only did JL have to deal with her dissociative mother, she was also losing her best friend, and being judged harshly for her mother's behavior and for dating an older boy. Though her boyfriend was often her quiet in the storm, he was also a source of stress as she dealt with her sexual awakening at her own speed, not his. I actually had to give JL credit for some of the decisions she made. Her family might have been sort of falling apart, but she was growing stronger due to all the challenges she was experiencing. There were quite a few times, where JL stood up for herself, and made some tough and painful choices, and she did so with very little support. I was furious with the people in her life. Her mother was mentally ill, her father was absent, her grandmother was in denial, her best friend was worried more about what people were saying, then about her friend, and her boyfriend, UGHHHH! He really disappointed me in the end. JL's story really gives meaning to the saying, "you always hurt the ones you love," because all her loved ones betrayed her in some way during this book. But, she made it through, and I was proud of her. I think she was proud of herself too. *ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. BLOG | INSTAGRAM |TWITTER | BLOGLOVIN | FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS
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  • Charlotte
    January 1, 1970
    This is a tough one for me. Now, first of all, this is a Young Adult book - so I'm not the intended audience. Second - my review seems to be the opposite of what most people think. So there you go! continue reading if you're curious.This book is about J.L. She's fifteen and dating a 19-year-old. Her father has taken a job in another city and has been gone for an extremely long time (and apparently doesn't even come home for visits). Once JL's father left... her mother sank into a depression and This is a tough one for me. Now, first of all, this is a Young Adult book - so I'm not the intended audience. Second - my review seems to be the opposite of what most people think. So there you go! continue reading if you're curious.This book is about J.L. She's fifteen and dating a 19-year-old. Her father has taken a job in another city and has been gone for an extremely long time (and apparently doesn't even come home for visits). Once JL's father left... her mother sank into a depression and is dealing with a dissociative disorder. Her best friend Aubrey seems to have moved on to greener pastures... and JL is left trying to figure out what she wants to do.The good thing... is that this book is well-written. I enjoyed the fact that the POV changed from the present to the past. Some things about JL and Aubrey's friendship were revealed through the flashbacks.Things began to fall apart for me about the middle of the book. I'm afraid it just wasn't believable for me. I mean, what father goes away to work for a year plus and never comes home to visit? Doesn't ever concern himself with what's happening to his daughter? None of the adults in this book behave ... normally. (And I'm not talking about the mental illness.) JL's grandmother just says, "things will be better when your father comes home." It's revealed late in the book that Aubrey's parents have discouraged her from spending time with JL because of her mother's behavior/illness. The relationship between JL and Max was basically filtered down to: will they or won't they have sex. There was very little characterization of Max and it was difficult to understand what was going on between the two of them. For me, there were pieces of the puzzle missing in the middle of the story. Why exactly did Max and JL get together? It seemed as though people were judging JL based on the fact that she was spending time with a fellow who was held back a grade ... and was different.I don't know, maybe I was looking for too much from this story. Many of the other reviews I read said that people really loved it, felt it was very authentic and raw. I didn't get that feeling... but again - not the target audience. I read a lot of YA books and I really make an effort to not review as if I'm the intended audience. I focus on the content. The content in this story just didn't live up to what I would expect in a story about a young woman coming of age.For me, the final nail in the coffin was the implication that JL's mother slept with her 19-year-old boyfriend, and then in the epilogue, the family was back together again. I literally stopped reading and thought, "did I miss something?"Don't get me wrong, I know that people can be really rotten to one another and that they can make very poor decisions for a wide variety of reasons, but really... there was far too much of that going on in this novel for me.
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  • Jennifer (JC-S)
    January 1, 1970
    Is it wrong to do stuff with a person you love?JL (Jean Louise) Markham is 15 years old, and shes having a tough year. Her father is on a business trip, which keeps getting extended, and her mother has retreated into her own world. JLs best friend Aubrey doesnt seem to have much time for JL anymore: she has made new friends. If it wasnt for the tropical butterflies that JL raises (thanks to her grandmother) life would be bleak. Except for Max. Max Gordon is JLs 19-year-old boyfriend. Hes about ‘Is it wrong to do stuff with a person you love?’JL (Jean Louise) Markham is 15 years old, and she’s having a tough year. Her father is on a business trip, which keeps getting extended, and her mother has retreated into her own world. JL’s best friend Aubrey doesn’t seem to have much time for JL anymore: she has made new friends. If it wasn’t for the tropical butterflies that JL raises (thanks to her grandmother) life would be bleak. Except for Max. Max Gordon is JL’s 19-year-old boyfriend. He’s about to graduate and then he intends to hit the road: leaving Long Island for California. JL would like to go with him. Whatever life with Max holds in store, it is surely better than being left behind. Her mother is unwell, and JL’s best friend has deserted her in favour of other friends. Aubrey does not like Max. What can keep JL home? While much of this story is contained with a couple of months of JL’s sophomore year, what has happened earlier is also important. The story unfolds through a letter JL writes to Aubrey, a letter in which she tries to explain what happened.‘What is it that makes us suddenly remember, Aubrey? What makes us take notice of what is actually around us, rather than what we want to see?I’m not going to write more about the actual story: each reader will take it at his or her own pace; each reader will have their own reaction. I remember being 15 years old (almost half a century ago). I remember having to try to work out which choices to make, and possible consequences. I remember being overwhelmed. Reading this novel takes me right back into that space, thankful I survived. And JL? Which choices will she make?This is Ms Polisner’s fifth YA novel, and the fourth I have read. (Yes, ‘The Summer of Letting Go’ is still on my reading list. I have bought a copy; I just need to schedule time to read it.) Ms Polisner continues to create believable characters and places them in challenging (but realistic) situations. Highly recommended both for young (and not so young) adults.Note: My thanks to NetGalley and St Martin’s Press for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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