C.G. Drews's Reviews > Jack of Hearts

Jack of Hearts by Lev A.C. Rosen
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really liked it
bookshelves: contemporary, read-2019, young-adult, ya-male-narrators

Just excuse the terrible pun, while I say this book had an incredible amount of heart. It's a love letter to being a queer teen (by an #ownvoices author too) and it's a call out micro-aggressions and it's an encouragement to kids navigating sex and friendships and highschool and stereotypes and the true trauma that is unsalted food.

➸ and uhh yes there is a lot of sex in this book
Jack ends up running a sex-advice column on his best friend's blog and he half does it as a "f @ you" to his school which enjoys gossiping about him. He (in his words) is a femme presenting gay teen who loves parties and makeup and sex and he is not ashamed of any of that. But being the centre of the gossip mill just because he enjoys sex is pissing him off. So this is his way of controlling the gossip a bit and also talking about something he WANTS to talk about. When sex is discussed in the column, it's pretty factual yet explicit, but in the actual sex-scenes it's not graphic. I mean...it's a lot more sex than I usually read lol but I think it was really well handled. And the emphasis on consensual and safe sex was really really good.

it's also like a total hug to queer teens everywhere
and you can tell how passionately the author feels about it and wants to boost and protect queer kids and it's just !! the love in this novel is immense. Jack does a heck of a lot of call outs to micro-aggressions towards the lgbtqia+ community in his columns, including addressing straight people fetishing m/m sex and smacking down slut-shaming culture. So so much needed things were said.

the stalker plot line was intense and terrifying !!! like!!! super terrifying
It felt a bit like a reverse-Simon VS the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Where Simon had a cute anonymous boyfriend online...Jack has a stalker sending him threatening notes on pink pretty paper. And it's frikkin' creepy ok. The build up was terrifying and seeing Jack's light go out under the anxiety and stress of having people threaten him and his friends was horrible and fajdkslfds I felt so much for him. It was so well written. Like this sparkly lovely kid turns into this muted anxious shadow and my heart b r e a k s.

the friendships were also my favourite thing!!
it's about sex, not romance, so the friendship in this book take the forefront of the story AND I LOVE IT. We have Jack, our glittery flamboyant sparkle, who takes no crap from anyone and just wants to be likeable and enjoy his life. Then his best friends are Ben, who is intensely good at fashion design and hat making, and he's black and gay and holding out for his OTP of ever. And Jenna, who is badass and an amateur reporter and made of sharp corners, who lets nothing and no one mess with her best friends. They are EPIC together. I love them !!! so much.

I also appreciated the stereotype discussion.
Like Jack is aware he fits a glittery-gay stereotype, but he knows this is him. He is being true to himself. And there's another gay kid at the school who is FURIOUS at Jack for this, because he thinks he's giving gays a bad name. And like, I think this was important to talk about. There are stereotypes for everyone for everything -- and sometimes we fit them. It doesn't make us less authentic. And you are never JUST a stereotype. It was a nuanced discussion and Jack really explored his feelings about it. (And didn't stop wearing makeup. Dude is living. Bless him.)

ok ok one last quick thing...I really truly loved how it discussed diminishing your own pain.
Jack is a massive optimist and every time something goes wrong, his reaction is to go: "Ok but at least I'm not being beat up and murdered like other gays." And you know? He has a point (acknowledging his privilege) but Jenna also calls him out on it. Suffering is NOT the olympics. You do not need to suffer to a certain level to acknowledge your own pain. And it's ok to hurt. I just ajfkdlsad I feel a lot about this, because yes people always do have it worse and yes acknowledge your privilege. But it's still ok to hurt. And it's definitely important to NOT let micro-aggressions pass, just because "at least they didn't physically hit you" or something.
Jenna wanted to know why I didn't push through, why I didn't seem angry like she was. I told her because it could be worse. And she said, "That might be true, but that doesn't mean it's not bad. That doesn't mean you don't try to stop it from being bad."

The story is just intense and well written and thoroughly impossible to put down. It managed to be this cute and glittery story about friends and sex and loving yourself AS WELL as having this super intense creepy stalker storyline going on in the back that absolutely made my skin crawl. The writing was taut and Jack's voice was loveable and amazing! You def want this one...I am just saying.
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Reading Progress

May 1, 2018 – Shelved
May 1, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
February 14, 2019 – Started Reading
February 15, 2019 – Shelved as: contemporary
February 15, 2019 – Shelved as: read-2019
February 15, 2019 – Shelved as: young-adult
February 15, 2019 – Shelved as: ya-male-narrators
February 15, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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message 1: by Drakeryn (new)

Drakeryn oh man your friendship paragraph makes them sound so much like Monty/Percy/Felicity (in a good way obviously!!) Percy even makes hats too

C.G. Drews They do have a little bit of that friendship-group-vibe...but Jack isn't clueless like Monty is haha.

Charnell (Reviews from a Bookworm) Super curious for your take on this as I ordered it for work. I work in a school library for kids aged 11-16. This was recommended for 14+. Do you think that it would be okay for 14-16? I'm not one for censoring but books like the later Throne of Glass books aren't in stock here because of the more graphic sex scenes.

C.G. Drews Charnell (Reviews from a Bookworm) wrote: "Super curious for your take on this as I ordered it for work..."

I honestly have no idea. 😂I kind of think any teen could read it, but it's about sex education so the columns he writes for the paper do go into details on sex. They talk about sex really openly, but the actual sex-scenes aren't so graphic. But it depends so much on perspective I guess, hence I really don't know what to suggest!

I'd probably call it upper-YA (I assume Jack is 17 but I don't remember).

Charnell (Reviews from a Bookworm) Thank you! You have to be so careful when in a school environment, more so than when I was in public libraries. I actually gave it to some of the frequent library visitors who I know would be fine with any graphic scenes of any kind. All four were 16 and all four gave it back to me and said they didn't think it should be in stock here. I'd agree with you, probably better for 17+, which is a shame as I was excited to have a LGBT+ sex positive book in stock.

C.G. Drews Charnell (Reviews from a Bookworm) wrote: "Thank you! You have to be so careful when ..."

yikes though...that's sad they all said no to stocking it. I do think books like these are important for that exact reason though. Like to bring awareness to sex-positivity and also healthy discussions. Make it less taboo.

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