The main character is Jacky Hart, nicknamed Jacky Ha-Ha, because she has a speech impediment that causes her to repeat syllables and because she likes to make people laugh. Jacky is telling the story to her two daughters. They learn of her childhood on the Jersey shore during the 1990s when the first Iraq War was being fought. Jacky becomes involved with the school play after getting in trouble at school for being a sometimes disruptive class clown. Her play practices count as detention time served. Life at home is tricky because her mother is in the military serving In Iraq’s Operation Desert Shield. And it gets even more complicated because her Dad starts coming home later and later.
Overall I enjoyed the book. The book frequently made me laugh. Jacky ends up telling her daughters a lot of her misbehavior and reminds them not to do what she did. In fact, in one scene she describes climbing a Ferris wheel to swear an oath close to God. She tells her daughters and the readers never to do anything this dangerous! The only flaw in the book is sometimes I found the title character Jacky just plain unlikable. It took many chapters for the book to redeem her.
One thing that I found memorable about the book is Jacky’s relationship with the assistant principal, Mrs. Turner. In a lot of the “middle school” books I’ve read, the assistant principal or principal is often the bad guy. In this story, Mrs. Turner is a bit of a hero. She wants to help Jacky to become a better person and she encourages Jacky to develop her acting talent. We learn early in the book that Jacky has grown up to become a successful actress.
Reviewed by Aidan, Grade 6, Gayton Library