I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
One young man’s chaotic journey through high school, a troubled home life and racial bias on the rise make this coming of age story not only relevant, but important and emotional in author P.A. Kane’s novel, Leaving Jackson Wolf. Here is the synopsis.
Passing through the transition hallway at South Park High School was as mundane a task as passing along a text message. But not for Jackson Wolf and James McDougal. One spring day bullies randomly target them—teenage fists are thrown and suspensions are issued.
After school, Jackson is indifferent to McDougal’s overtures of friendship until the whiz-kid proposes they jam the security cameras of a local drug store with his iPhone and steal some beer. From there the two fringe boys, biracial Jackson and undersized McDougal, become fast friends. Together they combat bullies, their alcoholic fathers and bond over the beautiful—Syd and Lexi, indie music and extreme biking.
But as the boys grow in strength people start to exit from Jackson’s life, leading to him to question his choices and believe forces in the universe are conspiring against him. With the help of McDougal and the stunningly competent Jessica Lee, Jackson learns that he must draw on his own power and goodness as he confronts the possibility of his greatest loss yet.
This was an incredible read. Set against the backdrop of the 2016 US Presidential Election, the author explores what it’s like for a biracial young man living in an age where people feel empowered to showcase their darkest, most biased opinions, whether they be racist, sexist, or anything else in that realm. When your alcoholic and abusive father is also racist and a Trump supporter, what kind of mental state would that leave a teenage kid in that setting?
The story also explores themes of abandonment, friendship and the discovery of who we are as people and what we are capable of becoming. While the racial bias and election are the backdrop, the true story lies in the unlikely friendship that develops between Jackson and McDougal. These two unlikely friends fine common ground and push each other to be the best versions of themselves they can be. In that journey they not only discover true friendship, but a bond of brotherhood and family neither one of them knew they needed in their lives.
The writing here is amazing. A quick read, the story flows smoothly as we explore Jackson’s life at home and with his friends. We see young love blossom, tension rise as terrible parental figures weigh heavily on the minds of these young people, and the author’s use of setting really helps bring the characters to life in a real and profound way, making the situation feel like it could easily be non-fiction rather than the coming of age fiction that it truly is.
Overall this was a phenomenal, must read novel. This coming of age YA read was relatable and impactful as we live in a post-election era of Trump and the violent and racist upheaval that has followed that election. The author captures the raw emotions of both sides of the political divide while also showcasing the mindset of young people today and how they are often caught up in the sins of their fathers, both literally and figuratively. If you haven’t yet be sure to grab your copy of Leaving Jackson Wolf by P.A. Kane today!
About the Author
Growing up in a three bed/one bath house with nine siblings in Buffalo, New York was a just the facts, assembly-line type of childhood. However, one day in the late seventies, well into my clamorous teen years, that all changed when my exhausted mom uncharacteristically asked several probing questions about how I was doing, what I wanted of life and how I was going to get there… totally confounding me. She was supposed to dish out commands and make declarative statements: …take out the trash …don’t come home unless you’re bleeding; …every time you masterbate it’s a hundred-years in purgatory. Not ask me to articulate inward looking, reflective questions about myself. Self-examination and contemplation, was light years beyond my transactional existence.
Eventually, though, due to a certain amount of aimlessness and failure I did come to consider my mom’s questions and many more of people, time, place and heritage, which have become the basis of the novel “Written In The Stars: The Book Of Molly.” Seen through the eyes of young Molly Shea it is an exploration of the ways and means of 1979 Irish-Catholic, South Buffalo and an evolving girl’s place in that world.
Presently I am one neighborhood removed from South Buffalo in West Seneca, New York where I live with my wife, three college age children and a cat that hates me. I have a State University of New York background in English and I love trade paperbacks, quiet black mornings and The Ramones.