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Jack Kerouac Is Dead to Me

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  325 ratings  ·  175 reviews
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 tr
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 7th 2020 by Wednesday Books
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Amanda Cresse Yes, the main character (15) is coming into her sexuality and we have the inside track to her thoughts, feelings, and insecurities. She is in a relati…moreYes, the main character (15) is coming into her sexuality and we have the inside track to her thoughts, feelings, and insecurities. She is in a relationship with an older, experienced, boyfriend (19). The story includes sexual touching and experimenting that is told in detail.(less)

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Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  325 ratings  ·  175 reviews

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Chelsea Humphrey
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Chelsea by: St. Martin's Press
"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 t
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
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 .
Rayne ♥
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
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 ...more

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
Larry H
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
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 bee
Aga Durka
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 qui ...more
Kelly Hager
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you Wednesday Books for an advanced copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

Jack Kerouac Is Dead To Me
By: Gae Polisner

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 stor
Kathryn in FL
3.5 Stars

Jack 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
Stay Fetters
Sep 09, 2020 rated it liked it
"What is it that makes us suddenly remember? What makes us take notice of what is actually around us, rather than what we want to see?"

Imagine reading a book. Not because the synopsis hits your book taste buds the right way, not because the cover is gorgeous or eye-catching but because of the freaking title. Has that ever happened to you? Well, I can officially say that it has finally happened to me and I’m not mad about it!

Kerouac isn't an author's books that I pick up for fun. His books were
Michele Knott
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, o
Liza Wiemer
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc
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 a
Erin (erinevelynreads)
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley20
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 w ...more
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 fib
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I won this book in a good reads giveaway. Very interesting book! I really enjoyed it
Sep 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs
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
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
There was a time, when I went through a YA phase and read many YA books. Then one day, suddenly, like a switch was flipped off, my YA phase got over. I still read a YA book occasionally, but such occasions are rare. I make an exception, when one of my favourite YA writers, Gae Polisner, publishes a new book. A new book from her comes out once every two years, and it is a time I look forward to. Gae Polisner's new book 'Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me' came out recently and I was excited to read it.

Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 rounded up
Apr 01, 2020 rated it liked it
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 ninetee
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 Aub
Megan Morris
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
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 fi
Lindsi (Do You Dog-ear?)
Apr 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, netgalley
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 charac
Susan Ballard
Apr 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 co
Anuradha Rajurkar
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book stunned me. Tough topics were handled with honesty and grace, and Polisner's writing style was immersive and evocative. I connected to the characters and appreciated their nuances. A gorgeously written story about broken friendship, first love, difficult family dynamics, and finding your center. Loved it. ...more
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 he ...more
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Julie Jaeger
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
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I am a wannabe mermaid and the author of THE MEMORY OF THINGS, SEVEN CLUES TO HOME and several other novels for readers young, old or in between.

Please note that, although I originally tried to assign star-ratings to my book reviews (and, thus, you will see some of my favorite books with stars), I have stopped doing so. A 3-star review, for example, can mean such different things to readers and re

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