REVIEW: Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts), L.C. Rosen

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

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...

Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) addresses all that I have ever felt (and more!) about the fetishisation of gay men in both the media, in fandoms and in real life. To be honest, before I joined the book-ish community and started spending more time online, I had never really encountered this phenomenon much outside of tumblr posts dedicated to One Direction (forcing sexualities on someone? I don’t care if they’re celebrities, it’s not cool). The fetishisation of lesbians and bisexual women, oh god yes. But gay men? Not so much.
I think this is because I used to spend a lot of my time immersed right in the middle of the LGBTQ+ community (now I am back at home and suffering from more than a little separation anxiety), whereas this predominantly comes from straight women. And let me be honest, right here and now - wanting two men to kiss does not make you an ally of the LGBTQ+ community; ignoring and effectively erasing the rest of the community, I repeat, does not make you ally of the LGBTQ+ community.
Do you think all of the men that watch lesbian porn aren’t homophobic? Do you think all of the men in clubs, who have made inappropriate comments towards me aren’t? Because, let’s be honest, they don’t care about who queer women love, they just want to watch them do it.
And, the fetishisation of gay men works in exactly the same way.
To be honest, I think this is the only book I have read this year that has a gay male protagonist and was written by a gay male author. There are so many books out there, solely featuring characters from the LGBTQ+ community that are cisgendered and male, written by straight women.
I bet you’re thinking of some right this second.
I know I am.
And do you know what? Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) is the only one of them in which I have recognised the gay men in my life that I love, in its characters. All of the others were idealised straight-girl fantasies of what male/male relationships are like, whereas this portrayed the characters as real people outside of their places in OTPs.
L.C Rosen really nailed it in this one. And, I hope more authors will follow his glorious footsteps and make the topography of queer Young Adult literature, a little more authentic, a little more real, a little more own voices.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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