Review: Getting over Jack Wagner by Elise Juska

Posted: August 26, 2014 in Reviews
Tags: , ,

This review was first posted at West of Mars. It’s being reposted here, at its new permanent home.

I’d figured that with such a great title, there was no way this book could go wrong. So I bought it for myself at BookCloseouts.com, a place where I’ve found many a gem. I mean, when you added in the back cover copy with the title…

“Eliza is looking to date a rock star — though she uses the term loosely. None of her boyfriends has been famous. Most have unbearable habits and overbearing mothers. A few only played show tunes. Still, they’re intense. Pierced. Tragically stubbled. With a predilection for dressing in black. Eliza finds them deep — in theory, anyway. But in reality, none comes close to the object of her original rock-star crush: actor/crooner Jack Wagner. When he latest catch turns out to be another mama’s boy, Eliza begins to realize love is nothing like her favorite ’80s song.”

Looks like fun, right? And totally relatable, since I came of musical age in the 80s, myself (which sorta explains why I am so devoted to Metallica these days).

The problem here is twofold: one that this reads like one of those wandering, narrative memoirs that is more of a telling of the author’s life than anything with a point. And two — perhaps because of the thinly veiled autobiography — it’s hard to get a fix on Eliza. At one moment, she seems to be sixteen. At another, I’d think she was in college. In fact, she is neither. Even the writing is problematic: at points, it screams of coming out of a graduate program’s fiction workshop whereas at others, it is unremarkable and serviceable.

And so is Eliza. She’s a typical girl who you might have found in Singles, or Reality Bites. While both movies had okay soundtracks (the former better than the latter), that was about all they had going for them.

I can’t remember the last time I was THIS disappointed in a book.

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