Summary: Jake Garrett is a mysterious new student at F. Scott Fitzgerald High School. He’s the new star of the football team, he throws wild parties every week, and he’s in love with the quarterback’s girlfriend, Didi. Everyone knows of him, but no one really knows Jake himself, except for Rick, a fellow football player at school. Rick acts as narrator, confessor, and witness to Jake’s true intentions, learning just how far Jake will go for love. As tension between characters mounts, Jake’s commitment will be put to the test with devastating results.
Number of Pages: 213
Age Range: 15-17
Review: Jake, Reinvented by Gordon Korman is the modern day re-telling of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. I have to admit, I almost didn’t catch it because I haven’t read The Great Gatsby since high school, and then under great protest, but Korman includes a quote from it at the beginning of his book, and names the high school after F. Scott Fitzgerald. Also, once I did look up The Great Gatsby to refresh my memory, I realised Korman uses the same initials for his characters as Fitzgerald does (except for Rick instead of Nick), and while he changes the story in some respects, it’s pretty close to the original, just modernized.
Reading Korman’s work gave me a greater understanding of Fitzgerald’s work, and I liked it better. I found Fitzgerald’s work hard to relate to, but with Korman I finally understood exactly what was going on. Rick’s narration provides a outside perspective similar to Dunstan Ramsay in The Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, and I liked reading about a character who is involved in the story but is also able to be an observer as well. Rick obviously cares about Jake and tries to save him from himself, unfortunately to no avail. Jake is misguided but still sympathetic, which is something I never ended up feeling for Gatsby. Gatsby came off as aloof even though he was desperately in love with Daisy, but Jake is obsessed with Didi and it is easier to see how it takes over his focus and his life. I think Gatsby’s and Jake’s feelings for the women they love are more believable and suitable in a teen setting than they were in The Great Gatsby. I liked too how Rick got a happier ending in Korman’s version.
It’d be so interesting to have a high school English class read both books and then decide which they liked better. Also, there would be so much to write about for an assignment, comparing and contrasting the two stories. Kind of makes me want to re-read The Great Gatsby myself just so I can pick both books apart and dig into what Korman was trying to accomplish. It’s a great read if you’re a Fitzgerald lover, but also if you’re not.
“The roar sputtered and died just in time for us to hear the guy’s ‘explanation’ of what had happened:
‘There’s no place to park out there!’
Oh, that was reasonable. If you can’t find a spot, your only alternative is to drive your motorcycle up the front walk, through a closed door, and into a roomful of innocent bystanders.
I waited for the crowd to fall on the driver and beat his stupid head in. Instead, they acted like it all made sense to them. A bunch of kids hauled him to his feet, dusted him off, and escorted him to join the chaos.” – Rick from Jake, Reinvented by Gordon Korman, pages 155-156
“After what happened to that poor guy two years before, it was easy to see how Didi was more than a girlfriend to him.
She was the ultimate affirmation, a megaphone blaring: I’m as good as you! Don’t I have the girl of everybody’s fantasies right her in my arms? It must have been enough to erase years of teasing that had surely been directed at an exceptionally bright kid.” – Rick from Jake, Reinvented by Gordon Korman, page 164
“It occurred to me that he would never see the reality of what was being done to him. Because then he’d have to admit to himself that he’d been nothing more than an unimportant footnote in Didi’s book. And that would mean accepting the fact that the last two years of his life had been totally meaningless.
How could you save a guy who wouldn’t let himself be saved?” – Rick from Jake, Reinvented by Gordon Korman, page 188
“Out of all of them, only Dipsy had cared enough to show up – Dipsy, who they teased and tormented. Maybe there was something about being picked on that was character building, that made you a human being.” – Rick from Jake, Reinvented by Gordon Korman, page 202