Reviews for Mostly True Story of Jack


Booklist Reviews 2011 August #1
"*Starred Review* When his parents' marriage unravels, Jack is sent from San Francisco to live with his eccentric aunt and uncle in Iowa. The experience is a revelation for Jack--who is accustomed to being virtually invisible at home and school--as he finds that he has friends who are as odd as his aunt and uncle. Then he is noticed and beaten up by a bully, and the powerful town villain seems to target him also with dark plans. What's going on here? The answers are not given up easily, and that's just one facet of this delightful puzzle of a book that is filled with wonders and magic, yes, but magic that is ancient, numinous, and tied to the natural world. Readers are tacitly invited to help untangle this deep and complex web. Barnhill's first novel for children is a marvel of both plotting and characterization, provide a foundation for the omnipresent magic that elevates this title to the first rank of contemporary children's literature. Best of all, an open ending suggests the possibility of a sequel. Readers can only hope." Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
Jack goes to stay with his aunt and uncle in Iowa. How do people in this place he's never been seem to know him? Barnhill's novel explores issues of magic, good and evil, and family with an effective sense of visual setting and brisk pacing. The story ends in a narratively satisfying place while leaving some intrigue, suggesting a sequel. Copyright 2012 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2011 June #2

A truly splendid amalgamation of mystery, magic and creeping horror will spellbind the middle-grade set.

Jack has lived much of his life feeling invisible, beneath the notice of bullies, friends or even his family. Yet when his parents divorce and he's sent to live with his aunt and uncle in Hazelwood, Iowa, Jack is shocked to discover that everyone in the town notices him. What's more, some of them seem to want to kill him. As he befriends some of the local kids, Jack reluctantly looks into the town's past and unravels the mystery behind why children have been disappearing there for decades and what his connection may be. This children's debut beautifully evokes the feeling of otherness kids come to feel around their peers and at the same time creates an entirely original mythology. The mystery deepens with each chapter, revealing exactly the right amount with each step. Answers are doled out so meticulously that readers will be continually intrigued rather than frustrated. The result is the ultimate page-turner.

An enticing read that is certain to keep both the hero and audience guessing at every carefully plotted reveal. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 June #4

In her first novel, children's nonfiction author Barnhill quickly establishes a sense of foreboding in the town of Hazelwood, Iowa, as Jack--ignored by and invisible to his parents, who are divorcing--moves in with his eccentric aunt and uncle, whose house appears to be possessed. Slowly, Jack befriends some locals, including 14-year-old twins Wendy and Frankie, the latter scarred and silent years after a childhood disappearance, and the eerily psychic Anders. Jack also becomes the focus of a town bully and an evil patriarch who cultivates power through magic; tension mounts as Jack provokes the supernatural forces that cause children and buildings to disappear. Suspense builds steadily, with twists and surprises woven throughout, and friendship emerges as a powerful theme. "Given that he didn't really know what it was like to have friends, Jack didn't realize until that very moment that he missed Wendy and that he had been very lonely for the last few days." Barnhill explores the struggle between good and evil and the power of love and sacrifice, creating a provocative and highly original mystery. Ages 8-12. (Aug.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 September

Gr 5-8--Bullies and distracted, disinterested parents have left Jack with zero self-esteem when he arrives in the mysterious town of Hazelwood, IA. His mother coldly and unceremoniously dumps him off to spend the summer with his quirky aunt and uncle, Mabel and Clive Fitzpatrick. Barnhill's practiced use of personification signals readers that the Fitzpatricks' house and other inanimate objects are strangely alive. While Jack doesn't recollect having been there before, he has bouts of remembering, not quite djà vu, and things seem eerily familiar in this spooky town where kids go missing and folks just seem to forget they existed. There's plenty of foreshadowing to alert readers to the scariness ahead as Jack makes friends, develops self-confidence, embarks on the age-old battle of good versus evil and, in the end, finds the place, albeit a strange one, where he belongs.--Patricia N. McClune, Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster, PA

[Page 144]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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VOYA Reviews 2011 August
Jack's parents decide to get a divorce, and they drop him off in Hazelwood, Iowa, to spend the summer with his aunt Mabel and uncle Clive. For his entire life, Jack has always felt invisible and alone, even within his own family. In Hazelwood, however, everyone seems to notice him. It is as if they are expecting his arrival. Jack quickly becomes friends with Wendy, Frankie, and Anders. He also makes some enemies, though, for reasons he does not yet understand. Clayton Avery, the town bully, starts picking on him, and Clayton's father, the most powerful man in town, wants Jack dead. Jack is unsettled by this newfound attention and the feeling that something is very wrong with the town of Hazelwood. As Jack slowly unravels the town's secrets, he discovers the reason he belongs in Hazelwood and finds himself in the middle of a magical battle of good versus evil Barnhill tells a compelling story with genuine characters and a deliciously creepy atmosphere. The suspense builds from the very first page, and short chapters propel the reader along as the mystery unfolds. While the danger mounts, Jack and his friends defend one another and make difficult, but brave, sacrifices. This delightful story will captivate readers with its blend of magic, mystery, and adventure.--Taryn Super 5Q 4P M J Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.

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