Facts and Figures
Published: October 30th 2018, Penguin
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher
What’s the story?
My first time getting it in the butt was kind of weird. I think it’s going to be weird for everyone’s first time, though.
Meet Jack Rothman. He’s seventeen and loves partying, makeup and boys – sometimes all at the same time. His sex life makes him the hot topic for the high school gossip machine. But who cares? Like Jack always says, ‘it could be worse’.
He doesn’t actually expect that to come true.
But after Jack starts writing an online sex advice column, the mysterious love letters he’s been getting take a turn for the creepy. Jack’s secret admirer knows everything: where he’s hanging out, who he’s sleeping with, who his mum is dating. They claim they love Jack, but not his unashamedly queer lifestyle. They need him to curb his sexuality, or they’ll force him.
As the pressure mounts, Jack must unmask his stalker before their obsession becomes genuinely dangerous…
What did I think?
Well, my copy of Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) arrived yesterday morning and now I’m sitting here the next lunchtime writing my review, so that should clue you in as to how quickly I raced through this gem of a book.
First and foremost, Jack of Hearts made me laugh, and as soon as a book makes me genuinely giggle, I’m usually sold. But it’s more than just a few well-executed jokes about blowjobs and fourgys (Fourgy Four for Drag Race S12, anyone?), it delves into love and equality and identity in a world where, yes, things are better than they were but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a hell of a lot of work left to do. And it’s something we can all work on, whatever your sexuality, because something else Jack of Hearts does so incredibly well is examine the fetishisation of gay men, and bi-erasure. There is a lot to unpack in Jack of Hearts and Rosen navigates these complex issues with flair and sensitivity (and fantastic fashion, because I’m going to need Jenna’s mermaid dress right away, thank you).
Jack of Hearts’ strength lays in its characters and their relationships. The dialogue, the nuanced friendships, the strained ex-relationships and the excitement of burgeoning new relationships, they’re all here in their messy, real glory. Jack of Hearts tells it like it is – sometimes friends fight, authority figures aren’t always going to look out for your best interests, there’s a darker side of sex and love that everybody, age aside, needs to get better at discussing.
Jack’s sex column has trickled over from the novel itself into a regular Attitude column (Ask Jack of Hearts) and it makes me so happy to see this, both from a marketing point of view (such a clever idea) and for the fact that teens are so rarely given the opportunity to talk candidly about sex, much less LGBT+ teens.
Before I go, I just want to share a couple of quotations I couldn’t keep to myself (please note these are taken from a proof so may be amended in the final copy):
‘Have you ever been in a gay bar? It’s amazing. All these hot guys with their own language, and then drag queens. I got up onstage and tried to dance with a drag queen, but she pushed me off, and everyone booed.’
Fellow straight girls, don’t do this. EVER.
“I’m not allowed to say ‘could be worse’.” It’s a rule she came up with toward the end of freshman year. She says I say it too much. I use it to minimise when people do bad things to me.
That one stuck with me, progress is progress but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more ground to cover, we can all do better.