JACK'S NEW POWER by Jack Gantos

JACK'S NEW POWER

Stories from a Caribbean Year
Age Range: 11 & up

KIRKUS REVIEW

Following Heads or Tails (1994), more stories about the life of the Henry family on Barbados. Jack, the 13-year-old with the experience of an 8-year-old and the wisdom of an 80-year-old, describes his family with an indissoluble blend of mockery and admiration. His voice is completely original as he relates the adventures of his family in a colorful, entertaining style, but the themes are far from comic. In one, the father forces the other Henrys to face their worst fears; in another, Jack cuts off a wart, and gets blood poisoning; in a third, Jack falls in love--and is ridiculed by everyone, including himself. The comedy arises from the tone in which all this is told: The narrative is literally dripping with sarcasm, full of the sharp detail and observation that only dark humor produces. (" 'Come quick,' Pete said and pranced up and down on his toes as if he had to pee. 'Dad's drowning.' "). This unacknowledged split between Jack's funny narration and the dismaying events he details gives the book a peculiar depth. There's nothing black-and-white about the characters, not because they are described as internally complex, but because they are constantly viewed from different angles--funny in one light, unpleasant in another. Readers will laugh out loud, but the aftershocks are not heartwarming. Indeed, by his insistent cheer, Jack conveys the tragic aspects of life much more forcefully than any sentimental treatment could. (Fiction. 11+)

Pub Date: Sept. 19th, 1995
ISBN: 0-374-33657-1
Page count: 214pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1995




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