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Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me: A Novel

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  157 ratings  ·  106 reviews

"Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me is an absolutely real, raw and emotional read, and it's a book that touched my heart with every page." - Katie McGarry, critically acclaimed author of Only a Breath Apart

Fifteen-year-old JL Markhams 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.

Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Expected publication: 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…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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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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Chelsea Humphrey
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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 .
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 sure it is true, even ...more
♕ rayne ♕
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
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
Kelly Hager
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
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,
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Liza Wiemer
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 rounded up
Megan Morris
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
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Jennifer (JC-S)
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
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
***Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of JACK KEROUAC IS DEAD TO ME by Gae Polisner in exchange for my honest review.***

With JLs father working across country and her mother lost to mental illness, her friendship with Aubrey grounds JL. Puberty and high school and boys draw a wedge between the girls. Now Max has replaced Aubrey as JLs go-to person. Max is graduating and taking the road for LA, and JL wants in.

JACK KERAOUSC IS DEAD TO ME is my first, but certainly not my
Christina Lane
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an incredibly well written Contemporary YA novel that is raw and real. The book is written in the form of a letter from JL to her best friend, Aubrey. The story jumps around a lot in the timeline, giving flashbacks to when JL was younger and even between her current / more recent timeline. In the beginning the timeline jumps around quite a bit. It's something that would ordinarily bother me but seemed to work well for this story and was not hard to follow.

Through JL's letter to Aubrey,
Samantha (WLABB)
Rating: 3.5 Stars

When 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
Joe Godina
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
JL Markham, 15 years old, has her whole life in front of her. But these first 15 have not always been easy. Her once unbreakable friendship with Aubrey has fallen apart, her father has been in California for work for way longer than he was supposed to, and her mom is suffering from a sometimes debilitating mental illness in his absence. The bright spot in her life is Max Gordon, her nineteen-year-old boyfriend. A senior at 19, Max is often misjudged, but JL feels like she knows the real Max, a ...more
Kristen Sears
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
This is the third book by Gae Polisner that I have read, and I continue to be astounded with how well she writes the voices of young characters. Even though her books fall under the young adult genres, she writes smart books for smart people, adults included. Her examination of the intensity of relationships between young girls, which often leads to heartbreak, is itself heartbreaking but beautiful and spot on. Her use of butterflies, specifically Glasswings and Jezebels, fluttering around the ...more
Kate Grace
A coming-of-age novel driven by emotion and instinct. Its an interesting take on growing-up; in particular, I love the motif of butterflies woven in.

But the story overall doesnt work for me. The teen and adult characters choices are hard to stomach. The plot, pacing and structure read as off-kilter.

Although this particular books a miss for me, I do hope to read more from author Gae Polisner.

Thanks to Gae Polisner, Wednesday Books (St. Martins Press) and Goodreads Giveaways for my ARC.

Emma's Things to Read
JL is 15 and her life seems to be falling apart. Her dad is working thousands of miles away in California, her mum is struggling to cope with her mental health and writing letters to Jack Kerouac, and her best friend Aubrey is barely speaking to each other. Her boyfriend Max is 19 has a bad reputation and calls her "Jailbait".
This is a real coming of age novel. JL makes some questionable decisions along the way and I found myself willing the adults in her life to notice what was going in and
Review to come :)
Kimberly Sabatini
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mg-ya
I was able to snag an ARC of Polisner's newest YA and I'm so glad I did. Reading it, I'm reminded that the teen years and the relationships that live withing those years can contain all kind of contradictive moments. Just like the life of a butterfly, the life of a teenager can quickly flit between fragility and resilience.

This isn't an easy book to read. As you turn the pages you become immersed in the feelings and confusion of a fifteen-year-old girl and her navigation of the strengths and
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. The main character JL allows the reader to really feel what she is feeling at the time. Her relationships with the other characters are told rather well and really show how JL grows throughout the story. A great tale of a 15 year old dealing with growing up and expectations.
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read-around with The Glass Menagerie or On the Road. And I loved the way the author manipulated time, especially as the book moved towards conclusion.
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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 reviewers, some rarely give more, so 3 means pretty great, to others 3 is

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