Jack Rothman is 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'.
And then it is. After Jack starts writing an online sex advice column, the mysterious love letters he's been receiving take a turn for the creepy. Jack's secret admirer loves him, but not his unashamedly queer lifestyle. And if Jack won't curb his sexuality voluntarily, they'll force him.
As the pressure mounts, Jack must unmask his stalker before their obsession becomes genuinely dangerous...
This novel is every conservative parent’s nightmare (affectionate).
It is so refreshing to read a YA novel that dares to venture outside the close-roomed expectations of its genre; a novel that understands, deeply and with compassion, what young people need, and makes itself a safe place in which they can just be, without judgment. In Jack of Hearts, Rosen openly confronts issues of homophobia, stereotypes, and the fetishization of queer men, while deftly handling topics of sexuality, gender fluidity, consent, and even BDSM. The resulting book is a bold work of self-making and discovery that is both intensely intimate and insistently universal, and the YA landscape is a better place for it. I really hope Jack of Hearts finds a wide audience of young readers who will feel both seen and empowered by it.
I have to admit-- going into Jack of Hearts I thought it might be one of those books that's IMPORTANT™ but a fairly average reading experience. I love the idea of fabulously gay, but fabulously gay doesn't sound like much of a plot. Turns out it might be!
Okay, I'm seriously underselling this. It's actually a book about gay stereotypes, sex positivity, and how
Jack Rothman is out and proud and he loves casual sex. He has a reputation for being a slut (reclaiming; not shaming) but only most of it's true. After he starts to write a sex advice column on his friend's blog, Jack receives a mysterious note from a secret admirer. However, as more notes arrive, the tone of the messages becomes darker and more threatening, forcing Jack to make some tough decisions about his self in order to protect the people he cares about.
Let's just say it right now: This book contains graphic, unapologetic gay sex. I mean, with all the icky bits left in. And hell, if you ask me, it is so refreshing.
Jack's frank approach to sex and sexuality offers a much-needed voice in YA. The narrative is carried by his charisma and humour, which I absolutely loved. He’s hilarious and doesn’t take himself too seriously, but he never allows the joke to be on him-- or his sexuality. The book is a mixture of funny, moving, and informative. I think it could be really helpful for confused/questioning/closeted teens who need answers. It covers everything from consent to asexuality to BDSM.
Know what you want. Ask for it. Be prepared for people to say no. That's the best any of us can do.
There's some great discussion about gay culture, tops and bottoms, and a critique of het people's insistence on figuring out who is who in a gay relationship, enforcing their worldview that someone has to be the "man" and someone the "woman". If it sounds heavy-handed, though, it just doesn't come across that way. Jack is fun, and his tone is open and conversational.
The characters are diverse, with Jack's two closest friends being the Latinx Jenna and Ben who is black, gay and fat (reclaiming; not shaming), plus a whole array of queer characters of all shapes and skin colors. They do all have quite a bit of economic privilege and live in the very liberal NYC, but Jack is quick to acknowledge this. Also: shout-out for Jack's super badass and supportive mom.
My one real complaint is the resolution of the central mystery with the love notes. It's not hard to guess who it is and the oddly-timed unveiling of the culprit has a touch of deus ex machina about it. That was the only weak point of the book for me. And the smoking (lol) because I've become such a mum.
I know Jack of Hearts is guaranteed to cause a stir and get banned a million times over. Not just by homophobes either (because, duh), but by people who believe there is something dirty and shameful in enjoying casual sex, especially sex that goes beyond the vanilla norm. I know already that some folks think this book has crossed a line.
But, honestly, I find it so heartwarming. Is it a little crass and gross at times? Sure. But it's cute and sweet and empowering, too. It doesn't promote sex; it promotes self-worth and individuality. Jack says outright that not having sex, waiting for the right person, never finding a right person, having lots of safe sex with lots of people... all those things are okay if that's who you are and what you want. I am not a gay man but I seriously wish I'd had Jack to tell me that when I was a teenager.
Maybe more of a 4.5 because I figured out the mystery about halfway through but THIS WAS STILL SO DAMN GOOD. This was hilarious and raunchy and sex positive and I LOVED IT SO DAMN MUCH. If you're looking for a fast and fun read (and can handle reading about anal every other page lmao), you DEFINITELY need to check this out.
"I know it's not the same - gay and asexual - but I want to tell you as someone who thought they were broken, and everyone was staring at them and knew, that you are not broken."
Was that one of the best gay books I have every read? Yes. Yes it was.
I am so so happy that I picked this book up. It's what my 15-year-old self would have wished for. I had so many questions about sex and sexuality back then and this book holds so many answers. So if you're reading this, and you feel insecure about your sexuality, if you don't know how to ask someone out, if you're nervous about your first time or if you just want to know what all this top and bottom talk is about - Jack of Hearts will help you.
Jack of Hearts is the most sex-positive book I have ever read. And we're talking consentual, healthy sex that throws clichés and stereotypes out of the window. Anal will probably hurt, blow-jobs can be super awkward, kinks are nothing to be ashamed for, and anyway, we're way to obsessed with sex. Some want it, some don't, and there is nothing wrong with that. It's a very honest, down-to-earth kind of book. Sure, the main character does have a lot of sex with a lot of guys who all happen to be hot and totally into him - which might not be the reality for most 17-year-old gays. But what I mean by down-to-earth is that it's realistic when it comes to the depiction of friendship, love, and sex. It's the kind of positivity and honesty that I would love to see in more novels. And the fact that it exist and got published is such a big deal! Believe me, the chances of a publisher buying a book written by a gay man about a gay teen who has lots of gay sex and openly talks about it are more than slim. It's one hell of a big deal and I have to applaud the author and his team for the amazing work they did with this book.
This book had it all: character depth, humour, honesty and outstanding queer representation. I'm excited to find out what Lev A.C. Rosen is planning next.
I love this book because when you read it's bad reviews, it's just adults who haven't spoken to a teenager in 50 years crying because via this book they discovered teenagers do, in fact, have sex with each other.
Jack of Hearts is the unapologetic queer book we've all been waiting for - it said FUCK your sanitisation of YA and teenagers lives and just decided to showcase a sex-positive, self-proclaimed gay slut as the main character. L.C Rosen did sex-ed more comprehensively in 340 pages than my entire catholic school upbringing managed and for that, I have to salute him. 4.5 stars
If you read the blurb of this book, you will know what it is about. A teenage gay boy, his friends, a sex column, and a stalker. I liked the blurb and wanted to read this book ever since I came to know about it.
While this book is like any other YA book talking about teenage life's insecurities, friends, the freedom that teenagers crave. Stalker angle definitely give this book that edge that made it different from others, specially when it was told that Jack was targeted for this very thing. His stalker wants him to do things that he/she wants irrespective of how all this effect Jack. Jack tried to ignore this but when the stalker started aiming his friends and family, it was time to face this head on. After all you can't let your loved for things that you are and they are proud of who you are. They are not ashamed of you and no one can make you ashamed of things that others love about you. I loved this about this book.
The other aspect that I really liked about this story was what Jack was writing in his sex advice column. No doubt at times it was too much information and I thought I was reading some adult romance instead of a YA but at the core of all this he was asking people to say what they want, be confident of what they are, have faith in yourself and your partner, safe sex, and to say "NO" whenever you feel that things are crossing the line.
But there are few things that I am unable to understand the life of a teenager in New York. I know he is one of a kind kid but he and his friends were getting high before the parties, drinking, casual sex, and threesome. This makes me wonder if kids do really get this kind of freedom there. Also the climax was not up to its build up. The reason behind the whole stalking thing did not set well with me. I felt like author was in a hurry to wrap up the book and gave the first reason that popped up in his mind for this whole stalker drama.
I would still recommend this book because it is important to talk what this story tells us about gays and how straight people think about them.
”Just ‘cause I like sex and have a decent amount of it doesn’t mean everyone else should. Everyone gets to use their naughty parts however and as often as they’d like.”
I really loved this book and its (sex) positive message! I mean there are a lot of YA books out there but I usually roll my eyes whenever there is a sex scene. No matter what you read, sex is always romanticized and I just can’t stand it anymore. I guess that’s one of the main reasons why I turn to smut books every once in a while because most of them are actually realistic and don’t gloss over the less sexy parts of being intimate together. I mean seriously how are teens supposed to get a realistic idea of this really important thing if the female characters in books already climax because a guy just touched their breasts? (Yes, I recently read that in a YA book and I was NOT happy with it!)
”Know what you want. Ask for it. Be prepared for people to say no. That’s the best any of us can do.”
So being aware of all that I chose to read “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts)” and I absolutely adored this super refreshing approach! Jack is a gay teen and he has sex. A lot of it! Moreover he is totally unapologetic about it and I just lived and breathed for this kind of rep! Here’s a boy who’s totally comfortable with his looks, with his body with what he wants from life. Jack doesn’t want to be in a relationship because he likes to be free to do what he wants and that is great!!!
Not everyone has to be in a relationship and especially not when you’re so young. I remember a time when everyone in my class had a girlfriend or boyfriend because it was idk... the thing to do?! At a certain age everyone just started to date and you were kind of an outsider if you didn’t. And just for the record I didn’t date anyone at that time because I just waited for the right person to come along. I never gave into peer pressure, but I’m pretty certain not everyone is as steadfast as I am/was. Especially not if you’re a teen.
Because let’s be totally honest here and face it: Teenagers are super insecure! They only just start to discover their own sexuality and they feel awkward in their changing body. They are driven by hormones and they don’t know what to do with it. *lol* And this is exactly where “Jack of Hearts” picks up! Jack starts to write a sex advice column for all those insecure teens because his friend Jenna asks him to and at first he’s pretty sceptical about it but as it turns out he’s hitting the right nerve.
”On the one hand, coming out is important to show solidarity, encourage folks to come out, and so forth. On the other hand, the entire concept is essentially playing into straight society’s game that anything but strict heterosexuality is something that needs to be announced, warned about. The closet exists because straight people shoved us in it, and because if we try to leave it, they’re often angry and/or violent.”
Jack’s advice was really great and I loved to read his column because it was so realistic! Here’s a boy that knows exactly what he’s talking about and he doesn’t mince his words! He’s direct and merciless in his approach and he calls things by their real name! The diversity of the questions that hit his mailbox varies from how to ask a guy for a date up to how to have anal sex so yeah, it covers a pretty wide range. ;-) One of my favourite columns was when he called out the straight girls for romanticizing gay love. I was like: YAS BOY!!! Tell them! Because it happens way too often and it needs to be addressed!
”But it’s real,” I say softly. “Perhaps, Jack, if you attracted less attention, you wouldn’t be getting emails like this. If this is real, I’d suggest stopping the column, and trying to keep a low profile.”
Which brings me right to another topic that is addressed and caused my bones to boil with anger! I absolutely hated the principal of Jack’s school because he’s one of those homophobic people that hide behind their “good deeds” for others. In this particular case behind his good deeds for the students of the school. By not taking Jack seriously and by letting him fend for himself, by actually suggesting that it’s Jack’s own fault for getting blackmailed because of his “lifestyle”, by telling him to keep a low profile and being not himself he CROSSED A DAMN FREAKING LINE and I wanted to kick his butt so badly!!! AHHH I can’t even!!! It’s hidden homophobes like him that make it so difficult to be who you truly are!
”You’re amazing,” she says softly. “Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Don’t let them tell you what to do, or how to act. Just do what you want. I’ll support you.”
Thankfully Jack’s best friends Jenna and Ben always got his back and tried to help him find the culprit. Blackmail is a serious thing and gosh it made me so damn angry to see how much it changed Jack. He went from that outgoing, flirty boy that wears tank tops, eyeliner and black nail polish to a guy that doesn’t go to parties and wears no make-up, to a guy that blends in. And all that just because the principal didn’t help him and he tried to protect the ones he loved. I hated to see his transformation, I hated to see what the blackmail did to him and I wanted nothing more than to find Pinky. This said I loved Jack’s mom and her stance on things but I really hope that I would notice if something like that happened to my kid.
”That’s how I think now. My outfit is boring. My makeup is pretty dull, too. But I look okay. It’s not like I’m going to get laid, right? I mean, if I do, then Pinky will be mad, and I don’t want that. I don’t want Mom or Ben or Jenna to suffer just because I wanted to have fun.”
As for who Pinky turned out to be: It didn’t really come as a surprise. At least not for me, because I love to play Sherlock Holmes in my free time. *lol* Still, speaking about Pinky brings me to the one and basically only thing I didn’t like about this book. The way everything was dealt with after the revelation. I really wanted there to be some consequences! For Pinky to suffer and to realize what she/he did! But none of that really happened and I was not okay with that. I repeat Blackmail is a serious thing and how everything was resolved in here just didn’t do it for me. Maybe that makes me petty but I just couldn’t with the ending.
All told I really enjoyed “Jack of Hearts” and it was a great book! Finally a sex-positive rep and a realistic one at that! We need more of those in our YA books! Moreover Jack’s voice was relatable and brought a fresh and unapologetic breeze into YA literature. I’ll definitely watch out for Lev A.C. Rosen’s next book! =)
This was really great and it actually would have been perfect if the ending wouldn't have fallen flat for me. XD It was rather abrupt and I would have liked more closure? I dunno!? *shrugs* I'll think about it! I loved Jack though! He was a great MC!
Full RTC soon! Stay tuned! As always! *lol* ;-P
Do you know that feeling when you have the sudden urge to read a book you’ve been eyeing for half an eternity? The list of the reviewers who loved this reads like the who’s who of the bloggiversum and I’m convinced if they all loved it I’ll love it too. XD
So tell me your story, Jack! I’m finally ready to hear it! ;-)
P.S: I think it’s so iconic that the MC in this is a gay boy who writes an online sex advice column! Like YES! Be out and proud and do away with all the stereotypes! Such a refreshing approach! <33
This book was blunt, honest, unfiltered, and brilliant! And it is going to make some people absolutely CRAZY!
What??? A book all about sex for young adults? and gay sex at that??? What??? A honest open discussion about sex??? Yes! And seriously as a mother of three I would strongly encourage all you concerned parents to read this book and have a honest discussion with your teenagers about it! What a fantastic book to open up a dialogue with! Almost 50% of teenagers in the United States are having sex... rather than pretending it’s not your kid, why not engage in a conversation? *steps off soapbox*
Jack is out and proud! He loves makeup, his friends, boys, and sex! He is unashamed, unapologetic, and fabulous! When his friend Jana asks him to host a sex column on her blog he happily obliges... he answers questions about anal sex, blowjobs, not wanting to have sex, and more... he answers these questions respectfully, honestly, and thoughtfully!He doesn’t sugarcoat things and he makes one thing very clear; what you do with your body is entirely up to you, do not let anyone pressure you into doing anything you are not ready for! And really isn’t that the message we want for all of our kids? I found Jack’s sex columns to be extremely insightful, maybe a little more insightful than your average teenager? But then I guess Jack was a little more experienced than your average teenager.... and to be quite honest if any of my kids needed some advice on sex I wouldn’t mind it coming from Jack!
This book however was not just about sex it was also about friendship and a mystery involving a crazy stalker... I really liked jacks friends Jenna and Ben and I love the bond between them... nothing beats good friends when it comes to navigating your way through high school.... perhaps Jenna and Ben could have been better developed, but maybe this leaves room for a spin off! I would love to get to know both of them better.... The mystery in this book started off strong, I loved the notes being folded into these elaborate origami animals, and I was very curious to see who was stalking Jack... but the conclusion was a bit underwhelming... having said that I don’t really think that was the purpose of this book nor did it take away from any of my overall enjoyment of the story.... Lastly I just need to address jacks mother, she was so laid-back she was almost comatose... I mean I appreciated her being so open and supportive of Jack’s lifestyle but....
Absolutely recommend! I think every older teen needs to read this book and in a perfect world their parents will read it as well and have a little chat! I think adults will appreciate this, it really makes you realize how far we have come since Judy Bloom... although I remember there was quite the scandal that my mom let me read “Forever”🙄
*** many thanks to Penguin Random House UK for my copy of this book ***
I'm telling you now that from this book's release date onward, any discussion of sex in YA (and especially in queer YA) that does not include this book is invalid. Also, I blurbed this! Here's what I said:
"Bold. Unfiltered. Supportive. Funny. Boundary-shattering. There aren't enough words for how much I loved Jack of Hearts, but if I could sum it up in one, it would be: necessary. Put this book in the hands of every teen who needs the courage to find comfort in their skin and desires (or lack thereof)."
I am honestly shocked this book got published as is but I am so, so happy it did. (Or that it will be, technically, as I am writing this in March and it pubs in October.) This book opens with discussion of a fourgy, goes in-depth about anal sex by page 30, and squeezes in discussion of BDSM, fetishization of queer guys by straight girls, when blowjobs go bad, and when you just don't seem to want it like everybody else does. (Despite being heavily about sex, this book is extremely and explicitly ace-positive, just FYI.) I'm sure people will be of very mixed opinions about it, and that's absolutely fine, but it's a fantastic discussion book and I think it's going to help a lot of queer teens.
I. Freaking. Loved. This book. And I plan to use all of my influencer powers to tell my followers (i.e. the 10-20 people who actually care about what I say on Amazon and Goodreads) to read this life-changing book and give it the love and attention it deserves. Seriously, not only is this #ownvoices book very sex positive, the hero also has wonderful friends (who are diverse and have a healthy (albeit somewhat turbulent at times) relationship with him), and there's a creepy mystery element to the book that will keep you desperately turning pages until the very end.
Jack is a young gay man attending his high school. He enjoys sex and isn't ready to be in a relationship yet. Which is fine! But that has given him a reputation at his school and the gossips love to talk about him. His friend, Jenna (who is Latinx), is the daughter of a journo and runs her own news blog, and she wants Jack to have his own column where he serves as a sort of "Dear Abby" columnist for people with questions about sex. At first, he's reluctant... but then he starts to really enjoy the platform it gives him not to answer others' questions, but also his own.
But there's a shadow on all this happiness. Jack is receiving creepy notes in his locker from a secret admirer. At first it seems innocent, but it quickly becomes clear that the person sending these notes is not a very nice person at ALL and they quickly shift to threats and blackmail. Jack soon begins to feel trapped, and it's up to him, and his friends, Jenna and Ben, and the sympathetic art teacher, Nance, to help figure out who his stalker is-- especially since the bigoted principal is of no help.
JACK OF HEARTS really reminded me a lot Camryn Garrett's FULL DISCLOSURE, another LGBT+ sex positive YA book that I really, really loved. I said in my review of her book that I learned more from reading it than I ever did about health class and I honestly felt the same about Lev A.C. Rosen's book, too. In Jack's column, he talks about everything from gender identity to "clean up," and I really, really wish I had something like this in high school because this information would have been so useful to know. The question he received from the asexual individual really moved me because I recently came out as ace myself and the analogy of sex to eating spiders (unpleasant but possible) made me laugh, but also nod, because yes, TOTALLY ACCURATE.
I saw a lot of people giving this low ratings because of the sexual content and while I get that people feel uncomfortable about the idea, I think it's really important for kids to see healthy sexual behavior in books that answers the hard or awkward questions that their schools or parents might not. I thought the author did a fantastic job at this, and I loved the positive plus-size rep of his friend Ben (who is Black) and I loved that Jenna was such a feminist and an advocate for Jack. This book also portrays trauma well, and shows the effects of bullying and how it can be facilitated by a school that is unwilling to take the next step (I was in a very similar position as a high school student), and the criticism of women who fetishize gay men was refreshing and totally called for.
So yes, I loved this book and it's now one of my new faves. I would recommend it to ANYONE and even though there is sexual content, it's never so explicit that I felt embarrassed or uncomfortable while reading it (and I'm ace, so, you know, you can trust me *wink*), and I feel like it serves a valuable purpose. I honestly feel like this book should go on a required reading list for teens because of its willingness to tackle the hard questions and portrayal of a teen boy who doesn't exactly play by the rules of what's expected for him but is still a great human with loving friends and an awesome mom as he figures himself out. At the end of the day, what more can you ask for from a YA?
I don’t read blurbs before reading a book; a great friend got me hooked on not reading blurbs and the experience is worth it. The high of going into books blind is the best experience ever. After reading the book, I read the blurb and saw this:
Riverdale meets Love, Simon Why? Like why? This meets this?
Oh boy! This one had all the elements to succeed but in my opinion, somewhere along the way, poof! The story was there, the characters were all set, then it got to the execution part and it fell apart. Some parts worked, some parts didn’t.
I like Jack’s character, he is out and proud queer boy in high school. His character remained intact until the end. I enjoyed his sex column, it offered good advice but, this is something that no high school student can achieve or maybe that is just my thinking. I am all about Sex Ed, it just gots to be a tiny bit believable. Jenna and Ben as side characters were underdeveloped, they were just there.
Jack is supposed to be 17? But doesn’t read like a teenage boy, CRINGE! Ummm? Isn’t this illegal? And that Slut status for a high schooler is a bit OTT, it is a recipe for bullying in most high schools. I get what the author was trying to say, I just didn’t buy it. I saw a documentary about 2 high school students in different states, who had the slut reputation that were brutally bullied. I get that it works in movies, series and maybe books, but sometimes I just need my stories a tiny bit realistic. And High school students meeting guys on Grindr and engaging in BDSM??
At the end of the book, I asked myself; mystery part? And answered; what mystery?
This book should have worked for me, it has a good message, a likeable main character but the execution failed.
Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) was such a fun book, but it also had a great message and a bit of emotion and suspense thrown in. This one was truly unputdownable. I started and finished it in 6 hours which is pretty impressive for me, especially for a physical copy of a book. It made me laugh so many times and I just adored Jack. His column started out as something fun for him, as a favor to his friend, but the way he related to other students and the questions he was able to answer, it was important. I really enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to reading more from this author!
Hi, wow, I LOVED THIS. Jack of Hearts contains such a refreshingly honest, upfront portrayal of sex, without ever feeling sensationalized. But it was still so FUN, and it never felt strictly educational and dry. This book heavily discusses the fetishization and tokenization of the queer community by straight folks (especially as it pertains to straight women fetishizing queer men and m/m sex), which I so appreciated. I just... this was such an unexpected gem, and I can't believe more people aren't talking about this book!
3.5 stars. What a conundrum. For about 36 hours, I only put this book down when life required me to. And I never did figure out why it had that effect on me.
But, something was there, right? Something made me need to know what was going to happen. Something endeared the characters to me. But what? On paper I don't have an answer for this.
I think my main gripe with this book is that it didn’t quite execute. It set up some really good elements but then just kind of bunted them, no home runs. FFS… a sports metaphor? Who even am I?? Moving on.
I relish books that dip into a character's psychology, when they scratch beyond the surface. I really thought this one was going to do that. Several things were revealed about Jack, but then they were never really explored. I’m going to call these psychological plot holes, is that a thing? It should be.
The plot was interesting, but slow to develop. The overarching mystery in the story was more prominent than I assumed it would be. The blurb does make this clear, but here I go judging a book by its cover again. (A note for many of my friends for whom this is important: this is not a romance.)
What I liked the most was Jack’s sex advice column, which was woven throughout the story. The Q&A was really insightful, and for this if nothing else, this is a valuable YA book for all sexualities. It’s completely improbable for a 17-year-old to have such a healthy and astute outlook about sex and relationships, but I forgive it because I’m glad the words are on the pages no matter what the reason/source. Not gonna lie, some of the shit in those columns was good reinforcement for 42-year-old me, and the value it would have had for teenage me can’t be overstated.
So I know this review is a bit of a mess, but I’m not sure what else to say. The book is worth reading (but not worth the $10 that the kindle version is at this writing). But it could have been more.
This is going to rile up readers who don't want teens to read about sex and more, who don't want teens to read a raw, honest book about gay sex and a gay teen boy who not only loves sex but also wants others to enjoy it, too. It's a book about toxic heterosexuality and the ways white women (in particular) fetishize gay boys and men.
But also, it's a book about a boy named Jack who runs a column on his friend's blog that doles out sex advice. And there's someone who hates, hates, hates that he does it -- and they're determined to harm him. He's stalked by this person, and begins to worry his life and those in it will be truly hurt by this individual's distain for him and his confidence.
An incredibly sex positive read that's a clear and real slice of teen queer culture today and more, what sorts of toxicity those who are exploring their sexuality encounter on the daily.
Great pacing, great character development, and a book that's going to mean a tremendous amount to many teen (and I suspect adult) readers. My only slight niggle with this: how long till we see a female writer get away with something this radical? I'm so glad this exists, and I hope it breaks open some more ground. And I hope we see queer girls finding a book of similar frankness from a major publisher.
Something else here worth noting: Jack is a child born of a sperm donor and a single mom. Bad ass. He also has one of the coolest moms in YA -- right up there with Leah's mom in Leah on the Offbeat.
Jack is a high school student who is asked by a friend to write a column for an online blog. He becomes known unofficially as Jack of hearts (and other parts). He's a gay teen who isn't interested in settling down. He loves listening to the girls gossiping about him, even if some of the comments are outrageous. Unfortunately for him, he's gained a stalker secret admirer and things are about to get a little tricky. Jack uses his life experiences to help others through his blog posts. Luckily for him, his witty writing and cheeky stories are helping him get laid.
This is a fun light-hearted read intended for an adult audience. It's written from Jacks point of view and includes the letters/responses for his column.
I really like Jack. He gets on with his life and tries not to annoy people. He's a lover of sex and not looking for the one. The writing is comical and Jack overshares his dating life. It's a fun read with a creepy twist.
4 stars out of 5.
*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I refuse to accept the normalization and promotion of BDSM in young adult fiction. Plus, high school students having group sex and threesomes? I don't know who greenlit this book, but it's an indication of some very troubling trends, in my opinion.
ARC kindly provided by Penguin Random House UK Children's via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
ETA: I've seen a few reviews accusing this book of promoting risky behaviour among teenagers. To be honest everything about this book is so over-the-top that I hadn't even considered the implications of some scenes. To me the "pre-game" parties Jack and his friends have where they get high and eat cucumber sandwiches and drink champagne were so hilariously fake that I couldn't take it seriously. Same goes for the orgy described at the beginning (which never really happened) and some other sex scenes. I'd love to think that any sensible 17yo reading this book would see through this as I did, but I understand that not everyone might do, and glorification of such risky behaviour is not something I can back up. So I'm lowering my rating to 1 star because, while I still appreciate the honesty of the sex talks included here, the mixed signals (make sure you always have safe sex, but it's ok to drink at a party until you black out and don't even remember how you got home but hey! you still have your pants on!) make this book very much not recommendable for the younger part of YA.
I have very mixed feelings about this book... The first chapter left me shocked - and I mean open-mouthed, have-I-just-read-that shocked. When I was 17 I used to meet my friends on the weekends to have coffee and obsess over whatever had happened that week on Friends/Buffy/X-Files, so reading about a group of high school kids having an orgy in a hot tub in the first page already was a bit overwhelming, and not because of the sex itself, but because of how honestly it was discussed. If (like me) you read NA, you know the sex in those books is always the same: mind-blowing orgasms, never-felt-this-before experiences and too-big-to-fit members. Occasionally someone experiences a bit of discomfort before seeing the fireworks for the first time, and that's about as much a concession to reality you're going to get. Not here. Sure, Jack has a lot of mind-blowing sex (always tastefully discussed) but in his column he acknowledges how awkward, funny and even painful it can be. I have never read about teenage sex, gay or straight, with the honesty and simplicity this book manages, and that's no small accomplishment. And Jack's internal struggling about "being the right type of gay" was just awesome, and more than a little bit heartbreaking.
Unfortunately, that's practically the only things I enjoyed. I've already said how I spent my weekends at 17, so it was very hard for me to connect with a bunch of rich kinds who spend their time partying, drinking, smoking pot and having sex. The mystery about the notes was no mystery at all because I guessed who the stalker was the first time they showed up, so mostly I spent the book annoyed at Jack for not wanting to go to the cops, not wanting to tell his mom and pushing his friends away when they were obviously worried out of their minds for him. Plus we get no explanation at all about the stalker's motives for making Jack's life a living hell. AT ALL. So in the end the whole stalking plot felt completely unnecessary, and it was like I was reading two different books: a YA about a funny kid writing a sex-advice column, and a dark thriller (the stalker was NUTS) about a kid being harassed. It made no sense.
My guess is that this book is going to be very polarizing, so I recommend it to everyone so they can have their own opinion about it (not very useful, I know, but it's the truth!)
Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) is bold, ballsy, and honest! This book is sure to get readers thinking and talking.
Jack Rothman is a rich, gay, New York private school-er who loves sex. He is--in his own words--a slut. He likes sex, has sex, and talks about sex. Jack writes Jack of Hearts, an advice column for teens where the sexually curious, confused, and frustrated send in questions, concerns, and fears about sex. Jack will talk about it all! A lot of his own sexual history ends up in the column. Fun, mishaps, likes and dislikes—they’re all in there. In detail! Columns include tips for blowjobs and anal sex, prep, protection, and what could happen and does happen during sex and after. Everything you need to know and more. What doesn’t Jack do? Well he doesn’t do boyfriends, relationships, or romance. He’s not ready. He freely admits he’s too selfish right now for a relationship. At this point in his life, he wants fun and sex with lots of boys. But a creepy stalker is putting a crimp in his plans and exploits. Disturbing notes start showing up in his locker at school that set off a chain of fear and doubt and stress. Jack has always been a source of gossip around school, but this feels different. He’s being watched and threatened. Jack and his two best friends, Ben and Jenna, are soon wrapped up in a dangerous mystery that not only threatens Jack’s safety, but also his voice and freedom to be who he is in this world.
Let me just say right at the top here…in my opinion, the sex and sex advice in this book is needed on YA shelves. It just is. Teenagers are having sex and they need to see and hear that in their books. If books don’t reflect their target audience, then…well…really what’s the use? I think the frank sex talk is absolutely f*cking amazing! It’s honest and blunt. No sugar coating in sight in this book. Jack just says it and does it. It’s refreshing. That said--I didn’t agree with all of it. Sex, sex, sex is all over this book. But Jack often says he doesn’t want to be just about sex….
“I know lots of kids want to be famous, and yeah, I like attention, but I’d much prefer it for things I do—like dress amazing and say witty things—than who I do.”
Is sex all we get from Jack though? You’re going to have to read to find out and decide for yourself. So many questions ran through my head while reading this book and I’m still thinking about it all. I love it!
There is a lot going on in this story, but let me try to break it down. Jack is a cute, stylish, makeup wearing boy. He’s happy in his own skin and you’ll feel that for sure. I loved his energy and fearlessness! But you’ll feel that energy and comfort change as this creeper begins to invade Jack’s life. He stops wearing makeup and dressing like “Jack”. He feels shushed and trapped. Sadly Jack also feels like no one will believe him about the stalker. Even a figure of authority thinks Jack brought it on himself by writing the column and having the “reputation” he does around school. This “Why can’t he just blend in?” theme is addressed with force here. A lot of post-coming out issues are addressed here for teens—like straight people are horrible *sighs*, fetishizing, the heteropatriarchy, and the idea that gay people bring on the bullying themselves just by being themselves. Discussion helps spur on understanding and change and this book will get people talking for sure! These issues are out here in our society, so I’m happy to see Mr. Rosen light ‘em up for everyone to see.
My one BIG complaint with this book was the big unmasking of the stalker. It really came out of nowhere! The suspense builds and builds through the story and then BAM!—we just sort of stumble on the identity of the stalker. And from there on out, I really felt like a piece was missing from the mystery. I needed something to tie it all together. I would have loved a column from Jack about trying to hold on to who you are when someone or something is trying to keep you down. The mystery and story needed something to pull it all together in my opinion. Plus….this probably isn’t fair to include in a review, but I have to say it. As you can tell, this book really got under my skin. It made my emotions all light up with love and anger and pride.
Phew…Sorry I feel like that all came out heavy and serious. But there is fun in this book too. I may not have loved Jack’s friends, but they added a source of humor and lightness that broke up the tension and ugliness. They shopped and glared at each other and laughed and danced. The fashion and color and parties all helped create a world so alive on the page. So please jump on in and meet Jack and his friends. You’ll get pulled into the mystery and suspense almost at word one! And I know for certain Jack will give you something to think about.
More like 4.2 stars (I know, I'm horrible, not even half stars are precise enough for my ratings)
I don't know what to say. It was amazing and unapologetic and different and really in-your-face. And I loved it. I know it's not for everyone, but I think some of the negative reviews are too harsh. Some of them even sound as if my 60 y/o mom wrote them. Like, mom, what are you doing here reading about sex life of a gay teenage boy?? Go back to reading Anna Karenina, jeeesh.
It would've been my first 5 star read of the year, if only I haven't figured out the mystery half way through and then spent pages of pulling my hair out screaming "How can you not see it??" to the characters.
In the bottom line: read this book if there's zero homophobia in you, if you're open minded and want to read a book not like any other!
LOVED how funny, educational and amazing it was! The stalker thing kept me intrigued while Jack's personailty kept me hooked to the book! He owms it. Owns his sexuality, his appetite for sex and every part of him confidently! Really, one of the most queer-positive sex-positive books ive read! belongs in queer lit hall of fame! <3
I feel like I set myself up for this. I read a really positive review and was like, "yes, let's fucking do this" without reading any negative reviews, which I usually do. I like to get all kinds of different takes on books before I commit to reading them. But I was so enticed by the positive review that I just went for it.
And here I am, finished with a book I thought I would love that ended up pissing me off nearly the entire time.
Content/trigger warnings for queerphobia, homophobic slurs, slut shaming, victim blaming, stalking, blackmail, ableist language/slurs, sexual harassment, mention of past contemplation of suicide,
As always. Rep: Jack is gay. Ben is black, gay, and fat. Peter is bisexual. Jeremy is gay and Cuban. Jenna is Latinx?
Let's start with the positives. (Yes, I have some.)
• There is a lot of sex positivity, and not just in the "sex is great, don't shame people who like sex" way, but in the "sex, no sex, lots of sex, little bit of sex, before or after marriage, in or out of relationships, one or multiple partners, kinky or not, is great as long as all participants consent and are safe and honest" way. And that's wonderful.
• Jack's column where he gives genuinely well thought out and helpful advice, as well as calling out queerphobic, heteronormative bullshit is fantastic.
• Jack calling out his gay friend for assuming another guy is gay based purely on stereotypes had me cheering. So many queer people think it's okay for them to assume sexuality based on the stereotypes they hate when non-queer people force on us and it pisses me off. Forcing stereotypes on people and assuming sexuality doesn't magically become okay when the person doing it is queer.
• Jack mentions it's okay to be selfish when it comes to what you like and want in a relationship or sexual encounter which is important. Not selfish in a take whatever you want without a care for the other person way, but that you don't have to feel bad for not wanting a committed relationship or wanting a certain type of sex, you can go after it as long as you're honest with people about what you want out of the situation.
• I also like how Jack stays the same at the end. Often in books with main characters who don't like or want monogamous, committed relationships, they change their tune by the end of the book. Jack, however, ends the book having his first threesome and telling you to fuck off if you don't like it. That's refreshing. As someone who often sees the things I relate to in character changed and considered positive development that's bound to happen, people who relate to characters who have casual sex/aren't monogamous deserve rep where getting rid of those things isn't considered a positive, inevitable development.
And now the negatives. Get ready.
• Pretty much all the queer characters in this book that actually matter to the story/we see on page and have lines etc. are guys. It's not like this book erases queer women, they're mentioned, like that one butch girl in the GSA or Jack's mom who jokes but kind of not really jokes about also being interested in women. But what about other queer people? Trans people? Nope. Oh, but Jack clarifies when he's buying makeup that he isn't trans. Why? Who knows? Non-binary people? Pretty much a strictly binary book in terms of gender. (Lol at that part when Jack says he blurs the lines of gender. He is firm in his gender. Blurring gender expression, maybe. But if you want people who blur the lines of what society believes gender to be, look to trans and non-binary people. A gay guy in eyeliner? Not so much.) Pansexuality? Nope. Even Bisexuality is barely mentioned, until Peter is introduced as bi. Asexuality? It's inaccurately explained multiple times as having no sex drive or desire, not wanting or liking sex, and being sex repulsed. Big sigh.
• Jeremy is shitty for believing that gay people who "fit" stereotypes should change or tone down who they are to "combat" stereotypes or else they're giving the whole community a bad name. (This is acknowledged by him and apologized for. He admits to needing to work on not making it queer people's responsibility to fit into non-queer people's world and ideas, but to hold those non-queer people accountable and fight them. He actively tries to be better.) Jack, on the other hand, is fucking awful for calling Jeremy the f slur knowing he isn't comfortable with that word. Gay guys who reclaim the f slur have zero right to call other gay guys that word, especially if they know they haven't personally reclaimed it. The fact that this moment is framed as Jeremy being the asshole and Jack just having a sassy comeback, with "ugh why did you ever go out with him? he's the worst" once Jeremy leaves after having a homophobic slur hurled at him is fucking gross. (Jack never apologizes for this, not even when Jeremy apologizes to him and they become friends.)
• "Stereotypes exist because some people conform to them." I don't like the use of "conform" here, because more accurately, stereotypes exist because they're based on actual traits or personalities in some people of a group that have been exaggerated and turned into caricatures meant to represent entire groups by people not in those groups. Being who you are, even if it happens to "fit" a stereotype is not conforming to anything.
• Just because you have a "get consent, use protection, get tested, be honest" message, doesn't mean you're done. Jack is seventeen and talks about past hook ups with men "a bit older" than him, which can only mean grown ass legal men. He boasts about being able to pass as "barely legal" which helps him hook up with older guys. He talks so flippantly about how Ben hasn't met a guy yet because his type usually isn't found in high school boys and most grown men of his type aren't into teens. He mentions being a freshman and hooking up with a senior, which.....no senior, who is going on 18, should be anywhere near a freshman, who is literally 14. Seriously, don't get me started that. Jack talks about meeting strange men from apps to experiment with rape fantasy role play and other kinks, and kinks and whatever are fine, but as a minor? That's the message you want to normalize? Meeting randos online and letting them tie you up? Like I said, it's not like teens don't think about these things or aren't curious or aren't going to experiment, but stressing protection and testing and consent and communication isn't enough. There is nothing in here about age of consent, about how legal adults have no place being involved with minors/high school students, how meeting people from apps or online is dangerous and the precautions one should take if partaking in that.
• Other messages that aren't great: overindulging in alcohol until you blackout and can't remember how you got home is okay. (And that your barely present mom the next day will just be like, "next time go easy on the drinks, eh?") If you're a minor being stalked, threatened, and blackmailed into sending nude photos, turn it into an amateur investigation with your friends and be honest about it with zero adults. (YA where the teen is going through some shit but refuses to tell an adult is a trope that should die.) Sending naked photos as a minor is questionable, because of that little child pornography thing, but it's okay if the person you're sending them to has also sent you some, that way if they share your photos, you can just "revenge porn" them right back.
• Jack calls Jenna and "honorary queer" and like.....throw the entire book away for that alone
• The bisexual character says bi people have "straight privilege" which.......um..........no
• Cis gay guys calling each other terms like "girl" and "sister" will never not put me off
• "I'm thinking, I'm gay, so this is something I have to learn how to do, right?" By "this" Jack means anal sex. This isn't challenged. Jack does mention that not all gay guys have anal sex, but it's more "there are other ways to have sex" and less "what you do or don't do in the bedroom does not define your sexual orientation".
• Jack says gays fetishize everything, so Ben (who is worried about no one wanting him) will be someone's type (fat and black) because....fetishization....is....acceptable?
• Slim waist and narrow shoulders are referred to as a girlish figure
• "Then I immediately feel gross about thinking that, because I'm not, like, a prostitute." Let's not insult sex workers, yeah?
• Paranoia from being stalked or not, Jack looking through Ricky's phone is invasive and sketchy as hell
• This book has like.........zero competent adults. The principal is a bigoted douche. The art teacher is one of those "call me by my first name and make penis sculptures in my class" teachers who desperately want to be liked by the students. Jack's mother let's him do whatever he wants. She knows he has casual sex like no other and drinks himself into blacking out, but does she care? The most she says is to be safe and don't hit the drinks so hard. And her reasoning? Well, she wasn't exactly abstaining from sex or alcohol when she was his age, so it's not like she can be a parent and set rules or anything.
• Rich New York kids who do whatever they want, whenever they want, who pregame with limitless alcohol and cucumber sandwiches, who go to fancy theme parties in fancy outfits they purchased with mommy's credit card kind of distracts from the attempt at being a sex positive/educational/empowering book. It made the characters extremely unrelatable, and kind of unlikable, in my opinion.
• Saying you'd find it annoying to stop and wonder if your boyfriend would be okay with it before kissing some guy at a party is a weird way of explaining that you don't want to be committed to one person.
• Jenna begs Jack to do the advice column after he already said no, while already having set it up and told people he was doing it. I cannot fucking stand pushy, overbearing friends. It would have been so easy to just have Jack actually be interested in the column from the beginning without Jenna forcing him.
• "I know, I know, fur is bad, but the animal is dead already" Supply and demand, jackass. It makes no sense to try to justify buying animal products with "well they're already dead" when they're dead because people buy the products, creating a demand for them, which then kills more animals to supply more of the product. It's a cycle. The author could've had the fur be fake or just not had any kind of comment about it at all. This just added to my annoyance.
• Jack has this shitty motto throughout the entire book of "it could be worse" and I wanted to quit the book every time he says it. Just because your situation could be worse doesn't mean you have to accept it or that it isn't bad. Or that you should be using those "worse" situations as motivation to feel a certain way about your situation. Inspiration porn isn't cool.
So. Yeah. Big miss on this one for me. Could've been really, really great. But really fails in a lot of aspects.
And before I go, I'd like to ask a question.
When are the queer narratives labeled as must haves for all queer people (especially teens) going to be something other than white cis gay male?
4.5 STARS - I have been wanting to read this book for months and it definitely surpassed to my expectations. I love reading high school stories but for me they are truly hit or miss. While I enjoy the high school/team setting I find many of the stories I read feel contrived or missing something in the writing. This story was fantastic, and the writing was spot on, the characters had depth, growth and real personalities.
I am a New York City girl, grew up her and raising my boys here now. This book definitely has a true NYC feel with the setting, characters and how they live their lives. What I enjoyed most about this story is how each of the MC’s are different (style, personality and emotional) they all owned who they are, that’s the message I took from this book. I think it is so important for teens to understand what they want and learn to be comfortable in their own skin. IMO this applies to ALL teens. It was such a strong statement reading this. It’s so important for teens to feel comfortable and excepting who they are and not judge themselves against their peers. Yet it was written in such a smart voice of Jack. His message was be who you are, but be smart about your choices.
My only disappointment was I just saw today this is available on Audible & really wish I had the chance to listen to it before reading.
Jack is a gay teenager who is comfortable with his sexuality, he enjoys shopping and gossiping with his best friends Jenna and Ben.
Jack is asked to write an agony aunts column online, where he is open about his sex life. He is used to being talked about, he is known as a slut, but the stories are widely exaggerated much to his amusement!! Unfortunately being in the limelight has attracted a stalker who leaves him origami notes in his locker, at first it is slightly amusing but the notes are getting more menacing and controlling. Jack will need the help of his besties to find the stalker.
Jack Of Hearts is a fun book to read, it’s a great story of friendship and being accepted for who you are with the added chilling element!!
Thank you to Netgalley for my copy in exchange for a review.
*Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!*
“Relationships are always made up of these little perceptions of relationships, you know. What you think is friendship is something else to someone else. You can never really know what’s in someone else’s mind, no matter how much you love them.”
This book is as fabulous as the cover implies.
Prepare yourselves: this is going to be a short ramble of love, because I have nothing but glowing praise for this book. It sweeps you off your feet and engulfs you in feather boas, smokey eyes, and of course, lots of glitter. It’s a pulsating nightclub of a read that leaves you with that midnight on the town glow and yes, a hint of a hangover. (Specifically, a book hangover.)
I haven’t had that much fun while reading a novel in a loooong time, guys.
It was everything I hoped for and more. This is a perfect “f**k you” to all the adults who want teenagers to only read watered down books where they don’t feel represented. This was a book that didn’t apply chapstick to the cracked lips of bigotry. Instead, this book punched it in the face and told it to do better next time. (It was the literary equivalent of a riot, honestly.)
Aside from my obvious excitement over something like this being published and out in the world, I loved the characters in this book. My main man Jack especially has my heart. He’s so genuine. Same for his best friends, Ben and Jenna. This book also addressed the very serious issue of teenage girls fetishizing gay men. Preach.
This is exactly the kind of book I needed. Something fun, fabulous, and a bit flamboyant. Just like Jack.
Highly recommend to anyone looking for a good time, some surprising suspense, and a novel that handles all the intimate topics those in authority want to hide.
“I respect that. Just ’cause I like sex and have a decent amount of it doesn’t mean everyone else should. Everyone gets to use their naughty parts however and as often as they’d like."
"The entire idea of Tops and Bottoms is an attempt to place some sort of heterosexual world over gay people....You're enforcing the idea that there is masculine and there is feminine, and that masculine if, for some unexplained reason, is better."
Jack Rothman's letter to the trio of giggling straight girls will forever be my answer to all the straight people who keep calling themselves Tops & Bottoms. Equal parts Full Disclosure and Netflix's Sex Education, this book definitely surprised me -- mostly with how much I liked it!! And yes, I was told by several people that it's right up my alley but I AM STUBBORN (i'm a leo ok?!) and I avoided it till now but I'm glad I finally picked it up.
Jack of Hearts is the sex ed book we queers needed growing up. Whether it was about coming out or just coming, he had the answers for it all. And while this book was very sex positive (which was refreshing in YA literature!), it was also very inclusive for asexual folks and those questioning their attractions, whatever they may be. It also taps into a conversation I've been having lately about straight women fetishizing gay men in the media - whether it be TV, movies, or books (Yah i'm talking about all you Love, Simon/CMBYN ladies) - and not taking the time to listen to actual queer voices.
This book is a PSA and I wholeheartedly recommend it to you all. It's honest and funny and very real -- though Jack must be SUPER FINE to have all these dudes from his school ready for a hook up at the drop of a hat. I WISH I was having the amount of sex Jack does when I was in high school - like OMG.
This was such a heartwarming , fun read . More like the sex education class I didn't get in school . This book should be read , not because only it has an important message but also because it's damn entertaining .
Jack Of Hearts is about Jack Rothman , a sexually active , gay NYC teen who starts writing sex advice column for his friend's website . But then he starts getting pink notes from his secret "admirer"/ stalker . Notes which were creepy at first but gradually become threatening as the stalker blackmails Jack to change his lifestyle .
That's a pretty exciting premise . Especially for a ya contemporary . I dived into this book blank as I had no idea what it was about other than that it was a lgbtq ya book which everyone should read .
The novel's plot is pretty solid . Other than the latter half of the mystery surrounding "Pinky" I enjoyed this book very much . There is an abundance of representation too . Jack's best friends - Ben ( who is a fat , black gay teen ) and Jenna ( a Hispanic ) .
Jack Of Hearts has some very important message too concerning gender stereotypes and safe sex . But it does it an entertaining way and doesn't get too preachy .
Also I'd say that Jack Of Hearts is very reminiscent of Simon Vs. Homo Sapiens Agenda . While Simon... is about a closeted gay teen ( Simon Spier ) who is blackmailed that how sexuality will be revealed . In Jack... Jack Rothman is being blackmailed to get back into the closet .
Overall , Jack Of Hearts is a very entertaining read . Probably not the best lgbtq book but clearly an important one .