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the character of Jake

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message 1: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Smith I noticed that several who reviewed this book stated that Jake was a good kid who just made one mistake. But, after reading the ending (did not like, by the way and agreed with the reader who said she needed 30 more pages and an ax to make the ending better), I kept rethinking Jake's character. He pushed Daisy away from him with a hint of violence. He also acts in a violent manner toward the girl who gives him a blowjob in the school park. He seems to feel a little bad about both of those incidents, but more worried about himself than about the girls. When it turns out that Jake cannot get through college or support himself, the violent part of his nature is not mentioned, but it does relate to his self-centeredness. I thought Schulman gave us these little hints that Jake was not such a "good boy" after all, but as readers we wanted him to be the victim, not the bully. But, maybe he was the bully, just not in this particular incident. Thoughts?


CGregory I'm glad that you mentioned this. I don't really think that he was all that "good" as well. It seems as if this family was a bit more dysfunctional than society would like to admit.


message 3: by Shannon (last edited Jan 13, 2012 08:39AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shannon The impression I took away was that Jake was a decent kid prior to the incident -- not an angel, but a typical teenage guy -- and that his guilt over how he caused this girl's ruination and his disillusionment with his parents in particular that were the driving forces that led him to become the less than honorable man he'd eventually become. He realized the wrong he did and felt some real regret. But in order to protect his future, his parents and attorney had to deflect the blame onto the girl and portray him as a victim. This is understandable (I'm sure any desperate parent would do the same), but ultimately it is this strategy that is Jake's and his family's downfall.

Jake has guilt, but cannot in this situation acknowledge it. He ultimately suffers barely any, and certainly no significant, consequences for this despicable thing he's done, which increases his guilt. His regard of his parents can only be diminished as they are trying so hard to protect him that they don't do what is morally right. They disparage the girl who's already been exposed and violated. (And remember, she's a very young girl. Sure, she created the video and sent it to him unsolicited, but that should not excuse Jake for his actions in any way.) Jake's disgust and hatred grows for himself, with his parents, his friends and anyone who watched and/or forwarded the video, Daisy for debasing herself, and the BJ girl for debasing herself with someone the likes of him who has been egregiously disrespectful of another girl.

"...but as readers we wanted him to be the victim, not the bully"

As a reader I didn't want Jake to be the victim, and felt that Jake himself couldn't reconcile being made the victim with the morals he'd held as a previously-decent kid who'd once had a close-ish relationship with parents he once thought highly of. In fact, I thought this was the main conflict of the novel -- not his mom's porn-addiction or loneliness or being overwhelmed trying to navigate NY society, not the collapse of his parents' marriage, not the effects on his dad's career, not anything to do with his little sister (seriously, the scene of Coco's reenactment was so unnecessary, over the top and not original), nor even awaiting the consequences (return to school? will charges be filed?). Rather it's because everything just died down, because Jake didn't have consequences, because his parents were exposed as selfish and less than moral, etc., that Jake becomes self-destructive and has a troubled future.


Michael I did not define him as a good kid, he was a troubled and disturbed one. I thought the author described his character perfectly, he was not balanced at all. He was trying to fit in the crowd and he was doings things that was contrary to popular opinion. His life at home was a mess,he just wanted to be accepted.

He was never good though,I never got that impression.


CGregory me too, Michael


message 6: by Don (new) - rated it 4 stars

Don Shannon wrote: "The impression I took away was that Jake was a decent kid prior to the incident -- not an angel, but a typical teenage guy -- and that his guilt over how he caused this girl's ruination and his disillusionment with his parents in particular that were the driving forces that led him to become the less than honorable man he'd eventually become."

I agree with that, Shannon.

I don't think that Jake's forwarding the video to his friend was a "despicable" thing to do, though. I think this was (obviously not morally good) but normal, probably what many decent people in that situation would do. I didn't think he was trying to hurt the girl -- he had no idea the video would go viral. He just, w/o giving it much thought, sent it to his best friend b/c he himself probably needed help processing it. Again, I think many of us would have done the same thing in that situation, never thinking of the consequences -- not good, but not despicable either.


message 7: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Smith Don, I agree that the act of forwarding the video was a major mistake, but not despicable. I do think that Jake's whole attitude and behavior toward the girls in his life was somewhat problematic. In two instances, he is slightly violent toward them, pushing them away and I would hope that this behavior is not normal, but maybe it is.
Shannon, I love how you looked at the relationships between the parents and Jake and see how what the parents did affected how Jake turned out. While I don't agree with everything, it is a great insight and I enjoyed reading it and thinking back on the book and what happened.
Great discussion!


message 8: by Ellie (new) - added it

Ellie Levi I agree with Wendy, although I am a little young to read this book I can understand the character of Jake. At first he is this innocent teen who lives an average life in Riverdale with his mother sister and father who works at Columbia collage. However when he gets this sexual video he makes a huge mistake by sending it to his friend. Although, he made a huge mistake that some may say is unforgivable, he still is just a kid that screwed up.


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