”Just ‘cause I like sex and have a decent amount of it doesn’t mean everyone else should. Everyone gets to use their naughty parts however and as often as they’d like.”
I really loved this book and its (sex) positive message! I mean there are a lot of YA books out there but I usually roll my eyes whenever there is a sex scene. No matter what you read, sex is always romanticized and I just can’t stand it anymore. I guess that’s one of the main reasons why I turn to smut books every once in a while because most of them are actually realistic and don’t gloss over the less sexy parts of being intimate together. I mean seriously how are teens supposed to get a realistic idea of this really important thing if the female characters in books already climax because a guy just touched their breasts? (Yes, I recently read that in a YA book and I was NOT happy with it!)
”Know what you want. Ask for it. Be prepared for people to say no. That’s the best any of us can do.”
So being aware of all that I chose to read “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts)” and I absolutely adored this super refreshing approach! Jack is a gay teen and he has sex. A lot of it! Moreover he is totally unapologetic about it and I just lived and breathed for this kind of rep! Here’s a boy who’s totally comfortable with his looks, with his body with what he wants from life. Jack doesn’t want to be in a relationship because he likes to be free to do what he wants and that is great!!!
Not everyone has to be in a relationship and especially not when you’re so young. I remember a time when everyone in my class had a girlfriend or boyfriend because it was idk… the thing to do?! At a certain age everyone just started to date and you were kind of an outsider if you didn’t. And just for the record I didn’t date anyone at that time because I just waited for the right person to come along. I never gave into peer pressure, but I’m pretty certain not everyone is as steadfast as I am/was. Especially not if you’re a teen.
Because let’s be totally honest here and face it: Teenagers are super insecure! They only just start to discover their own sexuality and they feel awkward in their changing body. They are driven by hormones and they don’t know what to do with it. *lol* And this is exactly where “Jack of Hearts” picks up! Jack starts to write a sex advice column for all those insecure teens because his friend Jenna asks him to and at first he’s pretty sceptical about it but as it turns out he’s hitting the right nerve.
”On the one hand, coming out is important to show solidarity, encourage folks to come out, and so forth. On the other hand, the entire concept is essentially playing into straight society’s game that anything but strict heterosexuality is something that needs to be announced, warned about. The closet exists because straight people shoved us in it, and because if we try to leave it, they’re often angry and/or violent.”
Jack’s advice was really great and I loved to read his column because it was so realistic! Here’s a boy that knows exactly what he’s talking about and he doesn’t mince his words! He’s direct and merciless in his approach and he calls things by their real name! The diversity of the questions that hit his mailbox varies from how to ask a guy for a date up to how to have anal sex so yeah, it covers a pretty wide range. 😉 One of my favourite columns was when he called out the straight girls for romanticizing gay love. I was like: YAS BOY!!! Tell them! Because it happens way too often and it needs to be addressed!
”But it’s real,” I say softly.
“Perhaps, Jack, if you attracted less attention, you wouldn’t be getting emails like this. If this is real, I’d suggest stopping the column, and trying to keep a low profile.”
Which brings me right to another topic that is addressed and caused my bones to boil with anger! I absolutely hated the principal of Jack’s school because he’s one of those homophobic people that hide behind their “good deeds” for others. In this particular case behind his good deeds for the students of the school. By not taking Jack seriously and by letting him fend for himself, by actually suggesting that it’s Jack’s own fault for getting blackmailed because of his “lifestyle”, by telling him to keep a low profile and being not himself he CROSSED A DAMN FREAKING LINE and I wanted to kick his butt so badly!!! AHHH I can’t even!!! It’s hidden homophobes like him that make it so difficult to be who you truly are!
”You’re amazing,” she says softly. “Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Don’t let them tell you what to do, or how to act. Just do what you want. I’ll support you.”
Thankfully Jack’s best friends Jenna and Ben always got his back and tried to help him find the culprit. Blackmail is a serious thing and gosh it made me so damn angry to see how much it changed Jack. He went from that outgoing, flirty boy that wears tank tops, eyeliner and black nail polish to a guy that doesn’t go to parties and wears no make-up, to a guy that blends in. And all that just because the principal didn’t help him and he tried to protect the ones he loved. I hated to see his transformation, I hated to see what the blackmail did to him and I wanted nothing more than to find Pinky. This said I loved Jack’s mom and her stance on things but I really hope that I would notice if something like that happened to my kid.
”That’s how I think now. My outfit is boring. My makeup is pretty dull, too. But I look okay. It’s not like I’m going to get laid, right? I mean, if I do, then Pinky will be mad, and I don’t want that. I don’t want Mom or Ben or Jenna to suffer just because I wanted to have fun.”
As for who Pinky turned out to be:
spoilerI already had an inkling that Pinky might be a girl and when I finally saw the list of the people who were good at Origami I knew exactly who it was. I mean we all know that Kaitlyn was one of the girls that romanticized gay love so I was not surprised when I saw her name on the list and put two and two together.
It didn’t really come as a surprise. At least not for me, because I love to play Sherlock Holmes in my free time. *lol* Still, speaking about Pinky brings me to the one and basically only thing I didn’t like about this book. The way everything was dealt with after the revelation. I really wanted there to be some consequences! For Pinky to suffer and to realize what she/he did! But none of that really happened and I was not okay with that. I repeat Blackmail is a serious thing and how everything was resolved in here just didn’t do it for me. Maybe that makes me petty but I just couldn’t with the ending.
spoilerI mean Jack still has nightmares but they all moved on like nothing ever happened and no one even knows what Kaitlyn did to him? Not even her best friends know because it’s kept quiet?! Maybe I’m a vindictive witch but I would have SHOUTED her freaking name from the rooftops so that everyone would have known what she did and that it is NOT okay to do something like that! Because yes, we can argue that she would have suffered from it getting out and that her life would have probably been miserable for a while. At least as long as she was attending classes at their school, but and there’s a huge BUT! That girl knew exactly what she was doing! She knew exactly that no one would believe Jack if he claimed it was her. She even said so when she blackmailed him AGAIN and directly in his face while Jack secretly had the audio running! There was no remorse, no fear of consequences, no realisation that she was doing something wrong! Who says she won’t do that again to another boy?! So I’m sorry, but I can’t accept the way things were dealt with here. If you let someone like that off the hook that easily it will happen again and I’m already afraid for her next victim. Because there is no way there isn’t going to be a next one. That girl needs help, therapy and not a reprimand. Yes, it was said she cried at Pattyn’s office but to me it sounded like she only cried because she was found out. To be fair it was never mentioned that she didn’t get help but it also wasn’t mentioned that she did. So an open ending in that regard definitely didn’t work for me.
All told I really enjoyed “Jack of Hearts” and it was a great book! Finally a sex-positive rep and a realistic one at that! We need more of those in our YA books! Moreover Jack’s voice was relatable and brought a fresh and unapologetic breeze into YA literature. I’ll definitely watch out for Lev A.C. Rosen’s next book! =)