If Jack’s in Love

Written by Stephen Wetta
Review by Nanette Donohue

The Witchers are the quintessential family from the wrong side of the tracks. Reviled by their wealthier neighbors for their rough-and-tumble ways, they live in the kind of run-down house that tends to affect the property values of the surrounding area. Jack Witcher, the youngest of the family, doesn’t seem to belong with the others and longs to escape the stigma of being a Witcher. Even worse, he’s in love with Myra Joyner, daughter of a particularly upstanding local family, and she seems to like him back (albeit not in front of anyone else). In his attempts to win Myra’s heart, Jack enlists the help of the neighborhood jeweler, Mr. Gladstein, who offers both assistance and lewd suggestions as to how Jack can encourage Myra to love him.

Jack is a charming protagonist who is easy to root for, but it’s his nasty, crude brother Stan who steals the show. Stan has no interest in escaping the rough-and-tumble Witcher legacy – he’s more interested in smoking pot and seducing Anya, the wealthy hippie girl who just moved into the neighborhood (and therefore knows nothing of the dark cloud hanging over the Witcher name). With every step Jack makes towards escaping his family, his brother drags him back, and Stan eventually does something so offensive and hurtful that it destroys Jack’s fledgling relationship. In this debut novel, Wetta captures the ups and downs of preteen love, as well as the atmosphere of late-1960s suburbia.