Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Jake by Audrey Couloumbis

I picked this title up because I fell so completely in love with Audrey Couloumbis' Lexie, the first book of hers I had read (gushing review coming soon). I read this one in a similar giant gulp, but wasn't quite as satisfied with it afterwards.

Jake is ten and it's almost Christmas. He's pretty satisfied with life, his only regret being the realization that his mom is probably never going to allow him to get a bike after his dad's death in an accident many years ago. But then Jake's mom slips on the ice and has to go the hospital and suddenly Jake is stuck with the gruff grandfather he's never met.

There are a lot of things to like about this story - the gradual cooperation and understanding of Jake and his grandfather, as they both learn things about each other and figure out how to compromise and get along. Jake's worries about his mom are in a perfect child's voice and his awkward attempts to interact with his grandfather are spot on. I guess what really bothered me about this story was the seemingly perfect relationship between Jake and his mom. They have all sorts of rituals and traditions, and Jake often takes the responsible role when his mom gets caught up in her work or a daydream. It just seemed a little too sugary sweet. At one point, Jake insists that he's not a "mama's boy" but that's pretty much exactly what he is. He doesn't seem to interact with any adult males - or many males at all, apart from one friend his own age. All the adults in his life are women; exciting, adventurous, unique, independent women, but all definitely female. Maybe this is part of the point of the story, showing how a boy in a predominantly female environment reacts to the sudden incursion of an older male, especially one with a military background who at first seems like he might not approve of Jake's interests and abilities. But I still would have liked to see Jake argue with his mom. I have never met a ten year old boy (or girl for that matter), with or without a single mother, who didn't occasionally argue with his mom. I guess Jake seems a little too saintly to be true.

Verdict: Although I had trouble seeing Jake as a believable character, I think that's something only an adult would notice. Kids who like realistic stories with interesting characters and some tension in the plot will probably gobble this one up.

ISBN: 9780375856303; Published September 2010 by Random; Borrowed from the library

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