"Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me is an absolutely real, raw and emotional read, and it's a book that touched my heart with every page." - Katie McGarry, critically acclaimed author of Only a Breath Apart
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 struggling with her mental illness, JL takes solace 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?
Gae Polisner’s Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me is a story about the fragility of female friendship, of falling in love and wondering if you are ready for more, and of the glimmers of hope we find by taking stock in ourselves.
In this coming-of-age story set on Long Island, the tropical butterflies Jean Louise (JL) raises become a central metaphor for the changes she undergoes during her 10th-grade year. JL wistfully remembers the simple, happy days of her childhood, when she visited the planetarium with her "weirdo hippy parents" and trusted her best friend, Aubrey, with secrets. Now things are different. JL's father has been gone for 18 months on an extended business trip to California, and her mother's fragile mental state has steadily declined, signified by the letters she writes and mails to dead author Jack Kerouac, JL's namesake. JL has also grown away from Aubrey; she disapproves of Max, an older boy who calls JL "Jailbait" and offers to take her with him when he heads out to California on his motorcycle. Juxtaposing childhood flashbacks against present-day scenes en route to a too-tidy ending, Polisner (In Sight of Stars) creates a mosaic of visceral images and moods, including emotional and physical longing, as JL navigates the uncomfortable terrain between adolescence and adulthood. Ages 14 up.
Another home run
As always Gae has grabbed hold of my brain and drew it into the midst of her story. She told this story with such clarity that my 16 year old self could feel every part of it. Again not wanting the story to end.
I am so privileged to be a minuscule fragment of her world. Thanks Gae.