Jacoby's Game by Alison Prince

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Jacoby's Game by Alison Prince

Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A wise and very kind book, Jacoby's Game is perfect for the alienated teenager, struggling in that cruel world between childhood and adulthood. Its heady mix of existential musings, adolescent passions and lost childhoods will attract the adolescent, but may prove too confusing for younger readers.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: N/A Date: September 2006
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
ISBN: 1844287505

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As Tiggy lies in hospital after a terrible accident, her mind wanders. Reunited with her beloved cat, Jacoby, she explores past and present in a game of Jacoby's devising. Tiggy can go where she wants to go, be who she wants to be. It's not as comfortable as she had thought it would be. Tiggy is an angry and frustrated person who feels desperately unloved and unwanted. Her mother is distracted, grieving over the death of her husband and Tiggy's hated stepfather, Philip. Philip is the man who took Jacoby away from Tig and had him put down. In the game, no matter how hard she tries to escape him and to find a better place, Philip just won't go away. Only Jacoby is unperturbed.

Jacoby's Game is very definitely a book for teenagers. Younger readers, however confident, will simply find the existential musings and shifting timescales confusing. For adolescents though, its heady mix of eccentricity and strong, confusing emotions will resonate very powerfully. Teenagers are neither children nor adults. They don't know where they stand, they don't know where they should stand. They feel as though nobody understands them, but fail to see that they don't understand anybody either. Tiggy's Gran articulates this perfectly:

Nobody tells you when you're young that adults can be hurt. They're so controlled and well-behaved, you think they're different. The more superior they are, the more you want to poke at them and find out if they're soft inside. But if you do get through, they shout and say such cutting things, you wish you hadn't. And you hate them more.

Teenagers often find the world too much to bear. They are demons for making things worse for themselves by withdrawing into their own little proto-nihilist world of boredom. Jacoby, the loved and trusted guide, points this out to Tiggy in a gentler, kinder way than most parents ever manage to achieve:

"If you want to be happy," he says patiently, "you must find a game that you really enjoy, and work very hard at playing it. If you're busy and interested, then you're happy."

Gosh, I enjoyed Jacoby's Game. I love teenagers. I love all that strong emotion. I loved Tiggy, so angry, so confused, so jealous and so bereft. I loved its exploration of the past as a possible panacea for the future. The book's more adult-friendly messages to teenagers - it's as much your fault as it is theirs - are wrapped very cleverly in a slightly surreal, eccentric envelope with a good deal of existential discussion. Jacoby's Game is challenging and never patronising, but it never loses sight of the vulnerability of its audience and finds the precarious place occupied by adolescents just perfectly. It's a wonderful idea and equally wonderful in its execution.

I can see word on this super little left-field book spreading around the classroom like wildfire. Jacoby's Game pulls off a fine feat in a delicate balance of being off-beat enough to be cool but comforting enough to be treasured. Great stuff.

David Almond's Kit's Wilderness also combines past and present in a very entrancing way.

This book was sent to Bookbag by the publisher, Walker Books.

Buy Jacoby's Game by Alison Prince at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Jacoby's Game by Alison Prince at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Jacoby's Game by Alison Prince at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Jacoby's Game by Alison Prince at Amazon.com.


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Magda said:

I just cannot remember seeing adults generally as controlled, well behaved and impossible to hurt. Ever. (By the way, I also cannot remember this time in life when people in their late 20's seemed old, although supposedly everybody goes through it). Is it possible that I have never been a teenager???

anadiny mogno said:

I've never read a book as fantastic as this.I wish there were a place where adults wouldn't have the power to control us teenagers. This book has given me the inspiration to start a new life with full of energy. So thank you Alison Prince.