Cover Image: Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me

Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me

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Member Reviews

I went into this book completely blind and now I’m crying. 
Did not expect so much emotion! 
I found this book to be a bit slow at some points but I’m glad we pushed through! 
Thanks for the arc!
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I really liked this book and it's drama with friendship, teenage love, family problems, and just overall real-life problems that everyone has.
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Told in multiple timelines, Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me highlights the devastation of coming of age in a household where not everything is as it should be. 15-year-old JL is a butterfly obsessed teenager just trying to figure out where she belongs. Her mother, suffering from dissociative disorder, doesn't fulfill the ideals a teenage girl necessarily hopes her mother will fulfill. Her father's absent, working in California, her best friend has found new best friends, and her boyfriend, Max, is leaving to ride across the country without abandon. JL has a few choices to make, and will learn plenty along the way.

An emotional coming of age tale, great for anyone who's ever felt trapped in their family's dysfunction and love, and anyone who's ever wondered where, exactly, they belong. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Wednesday Books for advanced access to this title!
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DNF. I will not be reading this title for review. I could not get into the novel. Thank for you NetGalley and Publisher for the early copy!
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Such a great Contemp YA, coming of age, finding yourself, figuring it out sort of story! I was drawn by the title and was pleasantly surprised.
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I love love love  Gae Polisner. I can't wait to rate another one of her books 5/5 stars on my blog!!!
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A quick read that made me feel both nostalgic for my youth and very glad to no longer be young. All women reading this book can likely see a bit of themselves in the protagonist JL, for better or for worse.
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Unfortunately, this book didn't grab my attention. Because of that, I wouldn't recommend it to my students, who read below grade level and really need extra engaging texts.
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DNF

I did not read this book and I know longer have any interest in reading it. This was during the beginning of my NetGalley “everything looks great so I am going to request it without looking into the book. I have definitely become more selective in choosing what books I want to request and read.
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Fifteen-year-old JL Markham's life used to be filled with carnival nights and hot summer days spent giggling with her forever best friend Aubrey about their families and boys. Together, they were unstoppable. But they aren't the friends they once were.
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What I love most about contemporary YA is how when written as well as this one, it can cover so many broad topics. I love finding books that have such relatable characters that not only the teens reading can enjoy, but I feel like altering reading them I have a way to connect with my own teen as well. 

SO many emotions in this title, an insightful novel covering the struggles teens have leaving what they knew, for who they’re growing up to be. 

As the first title by this author I had read, I know it will certainly not be my last, really enjoyed this one!
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I love alternative formats in stories so having this YA story told partially in epistolary and partially in prose was what drew me in. That and a Jack Kerouac mention will get me every time. But JL and her journey is what kept me turning the pages. JL hasn't had an easy life. Her dad is out of the picture indefinitely and she lives with her mentally ill mother. She copes with raising butterflies (probably my favorite moments in the book, so lovely) and in her relationship with her older boyfriend, Max. This is definitely a mature relationship, and it's not a clean read in regards to sexual content, but it's not unrealistic in regards to a teenager in this type of relationship. Especially one who is having trouble in her family and isn't as close to her best friend anymore. If your YA reader is looking for a darker read that follows a protagonist who is trying to figure out who she is in a world of adult problems, this one is for you. And while it ends messily, such is life, and it was still a satisfying read.
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JACK KEROUAC IS DEAD TO ME is Gae Polisner’s most recent YA Contemporary novel. Like in her other books, she tackles difficult subjects, such as mental illness, absentee parents, alcoholism, and growing up. Also, like her other books, it’s fantastic. The story follows JL Markham, a soon-to-be sixteen year old girl, who has her first serious boyfriend, but no one to help her navigate the relationship. JL and her former best friend, Aubrey, have grown apart, JL’s mother is unwell and doesn’t seem to be getting any better, JL’s father has moved to the other side of the country, and JL’s grandmother has taken to pretending everything is fine when it’s clearly not. Without anyone to turn to, JL’s supposedly derelict boyfriend has the perfect opportunity to corrupt her for good, which is exactly what Aubrey expects him to do.

My favorite part about this novel, and Polisner’s novels in general, is how she’s able to warp the timeline in a way that is both artistic and dramatic. This story swings between the past with flashbacks, present day with the main storyline, and the future with JL’s letter to Aubrey. As a result, there is a general sense of foreboding that I feel right in the beginning and a strong urge to find out what will happen. I also love how this book makes me think about my female relationships growing up and how difficult they were. Girls aren’t always kind to one another and Polisner paints JL’s and Aubrey’s friendship in such a realistic, tangible way.

The ending, however, left me with a lot of questions. Even though there are breadcrumbs early on to hint at what’s to come, I’m still surprised by JL’s hotel revelation. She doesn’t allow for an explanation as to how or why it happens, which makes it even harder to accept. I also want to see JL confront her father about why he has not come home, so I can understand his character more. Sometimes, he seems like a caring father, which makes it confusing as to how he could leave his daughter alone with his wife. Furthermore, because of what happens with the letter, I want to know the fate of JL’s and Aubrey’s friendship. On one hand, I appreciate that the ending mimics real life. Like JL, we don’t know what’s going to happen next. On the other hand, I need a bit more resolution and I’m hoping there will be a second book.

With that being said, anything written by Gae Polisner is a true treat. She commands her craft in a way very few do, and I consider her to be the best voice in the YA Contemporary space. JACK KEROUAC IS DEAD TO ME is my favorite book of Polisner’s to date, and besides that, the title is absolutely brilliant. To understand the meaning, you’ll have to read the book, which I highly recommend.
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An excellent YA book with a realistic depiction of mental illness.  It really captured adolescence and struggles that young women, especially have in perception, even among their peers.  There were problematic depictions and a lot of things that remained unresolved, which is why I haven't rated this higher, but it's still a book I'll recommend.
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I enjoyed reading several aspects of this book! The pacing was wonderful, characters were well drawn, and the reading experience on the whole was delightful.
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Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me is an amazingly well written book about 15 year old Jean Louise referred to JL who is navigating her very complicated and complex life with an absentee father, a mother with mental illness, a seemingly distant best friend Aubrey, and now dealing with a new boyfriend, 19 yo Max. JL is left alone to face all these worries. The book is poignant and beautifully written carefully addressing the fragility of young love, friendships, family and discovering for yourself life experiences in a harsh world. It is a tough and emotional read, but written with so much understanding for the struggles of what our youth faces. I enjoyed this book a lot.
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This is a really good YA contemporary. It deals with heavy topics such as mental illness, grief, and first love in a realistic, captivating way. It's raw and gritty, and I loved it.
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“Fifteen-year-old JL Markham's life used to be filled with carnival nights and hot summer days spent giggling with her forever best friend Aubrey about their families and boys. Together, they were unstoppable. But they aren't the friends they once were.
With JL's father gone on long term business, and her mother suffering from dissociative disorder, JL takes solace in the in the tropical butterflies she raises, and in her new, older boyfriend, Max Gordon. Max may be rough on the outside, but he has the soul of a poet (something Aubrey will never understand). Only, Max is about to graduate, and he's going to hit the road - with or without JL.
JL can't bear being left behind again. But what if devoting herself to Max not only means betraying her parents, but permanently losing the love of her best friend? What becomes of loyalty, when no one is loyal to you? “

    I was not prepared to feel the feels that I am currently feeling! “ Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me is a young adult contemporary novel written by Gae Polisner. It weaves between the past and the present. I really enjoyed the format in which this story was told. The writing was superb. I was hit with so much nostalgia while reading. I could definitely connect in many ways with JL. This book really hit some tough, hard subjects but it was so good. I can’t wait to read more from this author in the future.
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“But there were things you were wrong about, too.  I need to be clear...I’m just me, a sixteen-year-old girl.  And I won’t feel bad about that, Aubrey.  Or bad about anything I’m ready for.”

Reminiscent of Judy Blume in its exploration of the coming-of-age experience, Gae Polisner’s Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me introduces readers to JL, a 15-year-old girl who is approaching the end of her sophomore year, her sixteenth birthday, and the potential for her “first time” with her first real boyfriend.  However, despite all the coming-of-age excitement, JL feels alone, her father away on extended business, her best friend Aubrey estranged, and her mother suffering from a dissociative disorder.  Told in chapters that alternate between flashbacks and the present, JL writes to her former best friend, exploring the causes of their failing friendship. 

Polisner crafts several intensely relatable moments that will echo many YA readers’ experiences, such as when JL calls out to her former best friend while Aubrey pretends not to hear her or the deep, largely unrequited crush JL develops on Aubrey’s older brother. The tension between JL’s childhood and emerging adulthood is also beautifully symbolized by her butterflies, which often make appearances as she makes decisions about her relationships with her boyfriend, friends, and family. Despite the ending feeling a bit rushed, the overall story was a perfect representation of the loneliness that often accompanies growing up. 

School libraries should consider for purchase wherever realistic fiction is in demand. Thanks to Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I loved this book! Hands down one of my favorite books of 2020 so far. Trigger warnings: mentions of underage sex, attempted coercive sex, mental illness, betrayals. I received this book courtesy of NetGalley as an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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