Friday, January 6, 2012

The Edumacation of Jay Baker -- Jay Clark

Jay Baker, high school freshman and Ohio native, is in love with his best friend, Cameo Appearance Parnell. (Rather from shrinking from her unusual name, she embraces it with every fiber of her cheerleader self.) Unfortunately, she's always dating some jock or another. As far as Jay's concerned, they're all pretty much interchangeable.

All except for his arch-enemy, Mike Hibbard. A long time ago, they used to be friends, but then Mike turned into a complete meathead jerk, and spends much of his free time at school harassing Jay.

Stuff on the homefront isn't so hot, either: Jay's mother is moving to the local trailer park for the next three months because she and his father have decided to take a trial separation from each other. And then Jay's sister informs him the separation probably has something to do with the fact that their mom has been boffing Some Dude Named Keith. 

Along with the expected emotional distress, all of this drama is wreaking havoc on Jay's Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Jay's voice—internal and external—is funny, with the jokes and pop culture references coming a mile a minute. While some of the jokes fall flat, and the constant barrage gets grating, it also feels realistic—it's a part of him: he likes talking like a smart ass, but it's also a defense mechanism—and the author acknowledges the fact that it can be annoying, in that one of his teachers* tells Jay to knock it off on a regular basis. 

The writing feels choppy in parts, and sometimes makes some odd, unexplained jumps—that might be explained away by me missing a pop culture reference or by a typo in the review copy, though—but the relationships between the characters (especially the relationship between Jay and his sister, which was just perfect) were really enjoyable, and felt right.

Fans of the Carter booksStupid Fast, Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie, and books starring other funny male narrators should definitely give it a look.


*Who is, herself, addicted to the CW and prone to verbal smart-assery.


Cross-posted at Bookshelves of Doom.


Heather Kelly said...

Thanks for the review--I'm always looking for a book with great voice!

Ms. Yingling said...

I wasn't quite sure about this one, so am testing it on an actual guy before deciding. Thanks for giving me another opinion. It helps!