What Others Are Saying

"One way to look at it, is that it took Stephen Wetta fifty-five years to write his promising first novel, If Jack’s in Love, and I only hope Mr. Wetta writes a little faster next time so I’ll be around to say I told you so." — Pete Dexter, author of Paris Trout and Spooner

"I loved this novel! Like To Kill a Mockingbird, Whistling in the Dark...Twelve year old Jack Witcher will charm you, break your heart...and surprise you on nearly every page." — Katrina Kittle, author of The Kindness of Strangers and The Blessings of the Animals

"A powerful story of family and desire... Stephen Wetta captures with great charm and grit the joys  and aches of a first love complicated by social boundaries and familial expectations. He also weaves a fast-moving tale of life on the wrong side of the tracks and the central event whose consequences reach far into the future." — Lee Martin, author of The Bright Forever and Break the Skin

"This is a lovely, passionate, and compelling story--a book you won't want to put down." —Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump

"Jack, the narrator of Stephen Wetta’s heartfelt, heartbreaking, suspenseful, and riveting novel, is both blessed and cursed by his wisdom and intuition. At only thirteen years old, he recognizes all too soon that the odds are dead-set against him in his suffocating little town; this makes his charm and honesty all the more heroic. When criminal acts—both petty and brutal—tear at his family, we realize how simple Jack’s dreams are in his complicated life: he just wants to be the lucky guy who gets the pretty girl. The novel, full of beautifully realized characters and predicaments, gets everything exactly right." — Timothy Schaffert, author of The Coffins of Little Hope

Wetta's debut portrays the fictional El Dorado Hills in Virginia during the late 1960s with Southern gothic flair. … At turns unsparing, tender, and disturbing when it comes to rivalry and the nuances of love versus obligation, this is no typical bildungsroman. That Jack emerges from a crucible determined never to look back is unsurprising; it is the path leading him to this conclusion that is intelligently, wonderfully conceived.” — Publisher’s Weekly, starred review.

"If Jack’s in Love is a moving portrait of a specific time, family and town, but also a universal story of growing up and coming to terms with the people—and places—that raise us, told with all the humor, truth and urgency of its teenage hero. It may have taken the first half of his life to write, but Wetta’s touching novel was well worth the wait." — BookPage  

"Wetta has an amazing ability to take seemingly stereotypical characters and refining them with a quality jewelers touch to pull out every filligree and nuance, so they are as achingly raw and realistic as if you are encountering them as Jack would and does.... This story is sure to end up as a classic!" — Fresh Fiction

"...[Y]ou should read this wonderfully written marvel of a book: a work both gripping and hilarious, joyous and heartbreakingly bittersweet." — The Wall Street Journal 

"Stephen Wetta’s quirky debut novel is a natural for teens. … If it weren’t for references to long-haired hippies, Vietnam, and the Ben Franklin store, this story could as easily have been set today. … Jack’s eternal optimism that Myra will return his love is what gives his story life." — School Library Journal 

"Wetta has a deft touch at balancing the laugh out loud moments with some of the darker plot twists. All the characters feel authentic in their motives, words and actions throughout, and Jack’s relationship with his family members, Gladstein and Myra are written with compassion and heart. ... Stephen Wetta is an author to watch. ..." — About.com

"Wetta's narrative weaves Jack's pursuit of Myra around Stan's tendency to bloody the nose of anyone who offers a slight, real or imagined, a trait inherited from Witcher senior. Jack's ally in his quest is another outsider, Moses Gladstein, a Jewish jeweler from New Jersey. Myra likes Jack, primarily because Jack is the school's smartest kid, and Stan has found a new love in Anya, hippie daughter of the Taylors, rich folk new in the neighborhood. The characters are realistic, especially the Witchers, even Stan, whose thin-skinned "Don't tread on me" attitude ranges beyond the borders of sanity.… In the vein of To Kill a Mockingbird, but about class rather than race.…" — Kirkus Reviews

"You will fall in love with Jack’s endearing voice as he recounts the summer he fell in love and ultimately grew up." — Chatelaine (Canada)

"Populated with richly realistic characters, Wetta's first novel, of 1960s backdrops and prejudices, is propulsive and pearled with what might be the author's own experiences growing up in a similar town. Precocious without being precious, Jack is a charming narrator—who better to see the injustices of the world than a preteen pariah, after all?—and, with a lot of truth and even a little magic, his supporting cast sparks restrainedly." — Booklist

 “[A]t the ripe old age of 56 … Wetta has put his fallow years to use in a remarkable first novel that captures the slow unraveling of a working-class Southern family during the Summer of Love. … Jack Witcher comes alive on the page, by turns soulful and impish, bursting with love and longing. It may have taken Stephen Wetta 56 years to learn to write like a twelve-year-old, but it was worth the wait.” — The Millions

 "It is painful to watch Jack scramble for survival in this seemingly lawless world. He is vulnerable and victimized by an identity he should be able to disavow but cannot. Even so, Wetta allows us to see Jack’s potential—the person he could and should become, if only he’d embrace it. ... Whether he does is what keeps us gripped until the end." —The Daily Beast


Winner of the 2011 Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction

"One of the Top Ten Books of 2011" About.com 

"One of the Best Mystery Novels of 2011" The Wall Street Journal

 

Jack Witcher is a 12-year-old boy genius living in a Virginia suburb at an address the entire neighborhood avoids. It is 1967. Jack’s father has lost his job – again. Jack’s mother is sweet but painfully ugly. His brother is a long-haired, pot smoking hippie. If all of this isn’t bad enough, Jack’s older brother suddenly becomes the main suspect in the disappearance of the town’s golden boy. And to make matters even worse, Jack is in love with the missing boy’s sister, Myra. Jack’s only friend is Mr. Gladstein, the town jeweler and solitary Jew. Together, they scheme to win Myra’s love. But to do that, Jack must first overcome the prejudices, both the town’s and his own, about himself and his family.

 

Amy Einhorn Books, October 2011