The Jake Show

By Joshua S. Levy

Hardcover edition

Publisher HarperCollins Imprint Katherine Tegen ISBN


The Jake Show

In stock

Joshua S. Levy’s hilarious and charming middle grade novel follows a Jewish seventh-grade boy caught between the worlds of his divorced parents—with an orthodox mother and secular father, Jake must concoct a web of lies to go to a summer camp with his friends.

For TV-obsessed Jake Lightman, his parents’ divorce is like his favorite show getting canceled: the worst. Now torn between two very different homes, he must navigate a constant tug-of-war. His strictly Orthodox Jewish mother wants him to play the role of “Yaakov,” a Torah-loving kid who never watches TV. His secular father wants “Jacob” to focus on science and math, and leave all that Jewish stuff behind. Depending on where Jake is on any given day, he changes his clothes, changes his language, changes himself.

On Jake’s first day at a new school, Caleb and Tehilla barrel into his life. Suddenly he has two friends who seem to like the real Jake. And when they invite him to Camp Gershoni for the summer, Jake knows he has to go—even if his parents won’t let him.

With help from Caleb and Tehilla, Jake concocts a web of lies to get to camp. But Jake struggles to keep up the ruse and be a good friend at the same time. As the cost of lying grows, Jake must decide what’s truly important or risk losing the people he cares about the most.

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Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 5 Up—This novel has a tropey premise in middle grade novels: the seventh-grade kid caught between warring divorced parents. However, it is distinct from so many others because the root of Jake's angst is his parents' wildly differing approaches to their Jewish faith and culture. Jake's parents can't even agree on his name; Jake's dad calls him Jacob and his mom-or Imma-calls him Yaakov, his Hebrew name. The differences and expectations ramp up from there, causing Jake to create three versions of himself: Yaakov, the Orthodox version, pleasing to his mother; Jacob, the non-observant, earnest math and science student for his dad; and Jake, as he refers to himself, the kid who is just trying to make it through each day. Jake manages to assimilate into his fifth school in two years and makes friends with Caleb and Tehilla, who, like all kids, have their own personal issues. The story takes some unrealistic turns as Jake, Caleb, and Tehilla come up with a convoluted plan for them all to attend a Jewish summer camp, tricking both of Jake's parents into thinking the camp would fit their criteria for appropriate summer activities. Readers might like the story because the kids take the reins and make adult-worthy decisions. But even Jake admits that "turning on subtitles" might be helpful to non-Jewish readers. Not true. Jake does a good job of explaining. The climax contains unrealistic histrionics, but the ending is nice and tidy and will please most readers. VERDICT A representative novel with enough broad drama to circulate in middle grade libraries.—Kim Gardner

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