Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by Lev A.C. Rosen

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by Lev A.C. RosenJack of Hearts (and Other Parts) on October 30, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 328
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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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...

Hi there, I hope you’re prepared to read a glowing-ass review, because I have nothing but praise to deliver today. Years ago, I read and really enjoyed Rosen’s debut, a sci-fi/fantasy retelling of Twelfth Night, aka my favorite Shakespeare play, but he’d sort of fallen off of my radar. Clearly, a mistake, because holy forking shirt balls Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) was everything I never knew how much I needed.

Let’s address the most noticeable aspect of this book first, because those parts (pun intended) are likely going to determine whether this book is for you or not. Those parts are primarily penises and assholes, though there will be some references to lady parts as well. If you think that language is too graphic for a teen book review, skip out now because this will not be the book for you, because the book’s way more graphic.

Some people will say we should “protect the chilluns,” and I have no doubt people would be banning this book if it had more buzz, but I think this book is massively important. There’s an art, I think to writing a sexually graphic book for a teen audience, and Rosen does it perfectly. There’s so much sexual content in Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts), but it’s not romanticized. It’s informational and realistic and sometimes awkward or uncomfortable.

What works about this narrative too is that sexually adventurous and proud Jack agrees to write a column about sex and dating, one where he’s very honest and shares from his own experiences. He answers a lot of the questions that people have about sex, particularly m/m sex, frankly. Teens are going to have a lot of these same questions, and typically the only answers would involve a deep dive to the internet, and I think this is a better and more entertaining resource.

Of course, even with the best explanations of sex, this book wouldn’t work without an amazing main character, and, you guys, I fell in love with precious cinnamon roll Jack Rothman instantaneously. This boy is seventeen, and he’s often the center of the gossip mill at his school because he hooks up a lot. He gets slut-shamed and accused of giving gay men a bad reputation on the reg, but he refuses to let other people decide how he lives his life. Jack’s so confident in his beliefs that I even managed to mostly turn off my adult horror at how much sex a teen is having. Jack knows what he’s doing, and he’s thought everything out.

Jack’s also just one of the sweetest people ever, just one who doesn’t want commitment. Which, actually, I love, because usually commitmentphobic dudes are afraid of love and withdrawn and whatever, but Jack’s very emotionally present and caring; he’s just not ready for a relationship yet. Jack’s always supportive of his friends, whether they’re casual or relationship-py. He’s super non-judgmental pretty much across the board, which surprised me honestly, because you don’t see that a lot, but the world would be a better place if we were more like Jack. For example, he hooks up with a straight guy, and he doesn’t ever question that guy’s label; when others do that, he argues with them. See how precious he is? He would never tell someone else how to be or how to live.

On top of that, Jack’s really funny. His POV is one of the best I’ve read, because he has such a distinct voice, and his head is such a pleasant one to be in. He’s supremely confident in who he is, but he gets so anxious about the prospect of anything he does hurting someone else. It’s one of those super-realistic but funny things that he’s massively confident but also undervalues himself in a lot of ways. If you can read this book without laughing and also without wanting to give Jack a massive hug, we’re probably not kindred spirits.

TBH I wasn’t as into the stalking/blackmailing plot as I was into the characters and the column, but I don’t begrudge its existence because the book wouldn’t actually have a plot otherwise. Personally, I wouldn’t have given a damn, but I know most readers want some plot in their novels. Even with the stalking, it doesn’t feel like there’s too much of a plot here. I think that’s because it’s not even so much that Jack has a large character arc, as it is about the way that all Jack’s relationships shift a little bit as he opens up and eventually confronts what’s been happening.

I loved Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) from the first to the last page, and I’m so glad that sexually curious teens of any identity can be validated and educated by this book. If you’re interested in more YA like this (sex positive and more graphic), I’d recommend Cherry by Lindsey Rosin (which I loved) or Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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