Also by this author: The Witch's Boy
Published by Hachette Digital, Inc. on 2011-08-02
Genres: Adaptations, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Family, Friendship, Social Issues, Young Adult
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Enter a world where magic bubbles just below the surface. . . .When Jack is sent to Hazelwood, Iowa, to live with his strange aunt and uncle, he expects a summer of boredom. Little does he know that the people of Hazelwood have been waiting for him for quite a long time.When he arrives, three astonishing things happen: First, he makes friends -- not imaginary friends but actual friends. Second, he is beaten up by the town bully; the bullies at home always ignored him. Third, the richest man in town begins to plot Jack's imminent, and hopefully painful, demise. It's up to Jack to figure out why suddenly everyone cares so much about him. Back home he was practically, well, invisible.The Mostly True Story of Jack is an eerie tale of magic, friendship, and sacrifice. It's about things broken and things put back together. Above all, it's about finding a place to belong.
The Mostly True Story Of Jack by Kelly Barnhill is what I would consider to be a deeply unsettling book, especially for middle grade. Now, being unsettled isn’t bad. I’m still actually thinking about The Mostly True Story Of Jack. Kelly Barnhill’s writing plays on people’s fears without overt monsters.
Jack’s parents hardly notice or have time for him. Most of the time it’s as though he’s faded into the background. When they get a divorce, Jack is uprooted from San Francisco and sent to live in Hazelwood Iowa with his eccentric aunt and uncle who live in the most colorful house in town. Jack discovers the town has a secret. Children disappear and people erase the missing children from their memories. The town seems to worship the powerful Avery family. Jack and his new friends Wendy and Anders and Frankie must set things to rights and prevent the destruction of Hazelwood. Magic is interwoven in The Mostly True Story Of Jack by Kelly Barnhill and IT.IS.AWESOME.
Back to fears. The Mostly True Story Of Jack by Kelly Barnhill plays on the fear of being forgotten. I think the concept of not existing or having a forgotten existence is terrifying for most. Plus some children are terrified their parents won’t love them any more. Jack’s parents suck. They forget he exists in favor of his brother, Baxter. They never ever spare a thought for Jack. And this is personally, but this book totally played on my fear of the midwest. I’m an east coast girl and am currently terrified of Iowa. Danger is lurking in that goddamn corn.
I realize that it is bizarre to be terrified of a geographical region, especially when there are awesome things in the midwest, like Home Alone and Chicago and St. Louis. And that town where people sing and it’s like pretend Broadway. Anyways. Every time I read one of these books and shady shiz goes down in the corn, I get nervous. I know, I know that’s weird. But it’s a testament to Barnhill’s writing style, that I got nervous reading, and I am a 24 year old, not exactly the intended child audience.
Everything connects perfectly in the end of The Mostly True Story Of Jack by Kelly Barnhill though, as all is explained. I thought this was a brilliant novel, it’s occasionally slow but worth trudging through to see the wrong set to rights and to revel in Barnhill’s creativity.
Disclosure: Borrowed from the library.
This is a CYBILS book.