pbk., 167pp., RRP $A14.99
Jack’s back!!! In the final episode of this contemporary realistic fiction for younger readers that includes I am Jack, Super Jack and Always Jack, Jack is back along with his Mum who has beaten cancer, sister Sammy, Rob his surf-crazy stepdad, Nanna of the purple undies, best friend Anna and Christopher from the Tran Bakery, as well as Ponto his potato/onion experiment which may one day feed the world – or not.
For an almost-13 year-old, Jack has dealt with some really big issues in his life – being bullied, his mum’s illness, her remarriage – but there is one more mountain to climb. Jack’s last memory of his dad is his back as walks down the street saying he’s not coming back and for Jack to be good. Jack can’t quite bring himself to see Rob as his dad now, and as he sees his friends interacting with their dads he starts to wonder about where his is. But how will wanting to find him affect his mum and his relationship with Rob? With the help of Nanna he starts to search, but when he does find him the reunion is not all that he wants it to be.
“I thought you’d call one day, Jack.”
“I thought you’d call one day, Dad.”
Intertwined with his search Jack also finds himself in the centre of a bullying pack again – this time it’s his close friend Christopher who bears the brunt of it via social media – and Jack has to use all the understanding and skills he has learned when he was the victim to bring about justice and a resolution. All the time, he is learning as much about himself, his relationships with family and friends and his place within them as he is about the world around him. And you just know that as he celebrates his thirteenth birthday he is going to have the knowledge and resilience to get through his teens safely.
Gervay has created such a realistic family and such endearing characters that they could be any reader’s family and that adds immensely to the appeal because it is so easy to empathise and put yourself in Jack’s shoes and try to make the right decisions. If you had the evidence against your arch enemy that Jack does, would you consult them about using it before you did? This is just one of the dilemmas that Jack faces which really just hold up a mirror to the real life issues that we all have to face at times. Jack’s uncertainty, anxiety and desire are part and parcel of the life of our students and for them to be able to read about themselves in such a well-written and entertaining way will not only help them feel they are normal but also help them understand that books and reading are for them.
This is a series that needs to be in every collection and promoted to staff and students alike as must-reads. Written with a blend of humour and drama, they have such powerful messages about survival wrapped up in such a well-crafted series that you just know this has come from real life.