FAT JACK by Barbara Cohen


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Bracketed with rue and remembrance as Judy and Jack meet for the first time 20 (?) years later, this tells from her viewpoint of their senior year together at Carbondale High. Jack is new that year, fat and ridiculed. Judy befriends him early on, and they are friends when Mr. Sharf, the clipped and distant new librarian, changes Jack's status and whips up the senior class. Asked to direct the senior play, Mr. Sharf insists on doing Henry IV, Part I, despite the groans at Shakespeare's name. He badgers top athletes to take roles; he and Judy pressure Jack to play Falstaff; and the cast becomes a cohesive community with the highly talented Jack emerging as the star. Jack and Judy become close but she, mindful of his image as a fat boy, resists their becoming a couple. Then another couple break up and, at the cast party, pair off with Jack and Judy. Jack becomes distant, and each now remembers having been betrayed by the other. All this is recalled along with Mr. Sharf's forced resignation (should they have protested?) and the younger Judy's speculations on honor as occasioned by the play and the director's presentation. Both Jack and Mr. Sharf are interesting, positive characters who seem, like real people, to have more to them than is here revealed. With the sympathetic Judy as an involved observer, the story comes across with considerably more feeling and intelligence than one finds in most ""serious"" YA portrayals of high school personalities and relationships.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1980
Publisher: Atheneum