Monday, July 2, 2012

Review: The Edumacation of Jay Baker by Jay Clark

Title: The Edumacation of Jay Baker
Author: Jay Clark
Series: N/A
Pages: 275
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Date Published: January 31st, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Contemporary (YA)
Source: Library

A few "sexy" bullet points about Jay:
- He is in love with a cheerleader named Cameo "Appearance" Parnell
- He is forever losing "Love-15" to tennis-playing goddess Caroline Richardson
- He rocks a touche array of pop-culture references, jokes, and puns...

Live vicariously through Jay as he faces off against his mortal enemy, gets awkward around his dream girl(s), loses his marbles in a Bermudian love triangle, watches his parents' relationship implode, and, finally, learns to get real and be himself(ish)

My Review:
Holy Awkward Awesomesauce Batman!!! There are some books that come out of nowhere, smack you on the side of the face with a shock of awesome and then run away leaving you like....Did I just get attacked by a book? And yes...reading The Edumacation of Jay Baker is an attack. An attack to the senses, the cerebral cortex, and most definitely the funny bone :) It's the definition of quirky. In fact they may need to invent a new word like...awkwirky...the love child of awkward and quirky...because that is exactly what the Edumacation of Jay Baker is. ...I'll stop rambling and get down to the actual fabulousness of the story.

Jay Baker is awkward. He's got the quick wit of a sarcastic Tinkerbell...but not too much else going for him. In fact...this kid's got so much stacked against him it's hard to see how he can be so straight up hilarious all the time. Between his secret-not so secret love for his best friend Cameo Appearance Parnell, a rivalry with former-best-friend-turned-number-one-Jay-hater Mike, and not to mention the floozy tramp-like ways of a bewildering mom, it's all Jay can do to keep his socially awkward head above the proverbial water. Even though apparently Jay struggles to come to terms with who he is and where he fits in, I never got that feeling for a second. He's got a definite personality that never falters or comes into question, and you find yourself wishing he would jump out of the pages and come chillax with you and make snappy remarks about YOUR nemesis.

Jay, despite being the most hilarious kid I've read about in for-EVER, has quite a few things to deal with. It's a wonder he isn't a goth or some kind of freaky emo kid...something I believe both he and Cameo would have lots and lots to say about. But mixed up in his sarcasm and razor sharp wit, Jay actually stumbles across some wisdom and insights into just what life is about along the way. You  fly through the pages like they're water and you've been dying in the Sahara for the last month. I don't know whether it is just that Jay is a guy or that he's written by a guy, but I felt like this was a really original take on the same themes that crop up in YA literature all the time. It's just refreshing to have the issues hashed out in a funny way, rather than the depressing angsty teenage way that is so popular with the female protagonists.

I love how a musical track list was incorporated in the different chapters of the book. Each chapter has a...kind of messed up version of a popular song that fits with the plot of that chapter and really kind of showcases the feeling and mood of each chapter. For example, the chapter where Jay kisses one of his lady-loves for the first time is entitled "I Kissed A Girl And She Wasn't That Crazy About It"...of course to the song of Katy Perry's I Kissed A Girl. Not only was it cute and gave lots of nods to pop culture that this pop culture junkie could enjoy, but it also gave the book a decidedly Indie feel along the lines of Dash and Lily's Book of Dares or Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist. Shweet.

Overall, the story is a coming of age, self discovery, and general-all around teen book that is sure to have you laughing your ass off the entire time. I will say that some of the references and celebrity throwbacks might not be appreciated by everybody. I caught some Full House, some Jessica Alba, some Star Trek, and a bunch of other things. Star Trek has persevered long enough to be firmly ingrained in many an American's cultural memory, but teens who haven't watched Full House or those who didn't watch Jessica Alba's movies when she was hot (I know...a lot of guys will argue that she's still banging...but come on...she's a mom now and hasn't been in anything interesting/hot since Fantastic Four 2) will be a little lost and distracted by things that aren't really relevant to right now.
Edumacation is Jay Clark's debut YA Novel, and I will be beside myself if he doesn't write something else. Witty rapport, complex characters, and just a fun story like in this book do not come around all that often and it would be a shame if Jay (Clark...not Baker...) didn't keep it up. In fact...I'm demanding it! The Edumacation of Jay Baker is a 5 Key delicacy of awesomesauce. I'd say that if you like Contemporary YA fiction for any reason you MUST add the Edumacation of Jay Baker to your keeper shelf. It's a story that will appeal to boys and girls of all ages, and especially one that socially awkward teens will love. As a former band-geek, I give major props to Jay Clark for making a great novel for the weird kids :D


  1. Ha! I love your opening lines in the review.

  2. This sounds really good. I really need to expand my reading horizons to include awkwirky. ;)Great review, Andra!