Disclosure: I received compensation and a free copy of the book from Mom Select to facilitate this review but all text here on this post is 100% mine. #HaHaBookClub
Jackie Ha Ha Book Review
I have always wanted to be the type of woman who can juggle motherhood, being a wife, and maintaining friendships, and rocking a brilliant career with ease and grace. Unfortunately, it did not shake out that way. I have found that the only relationships that I have time to really put all of my energy into at this point is with my husband and kids. So when the opportunity to form a book club came up, I was excited but realistic: I just don’t have the time for it. Until I found out it was a mother/daughter book club, then I was intrigued. I am always looking for new opportunities to bond with my six and-a-half year old big girl.
My daughter is only in first grade, but she is reading at a much higher grade level. She is so smart that it is really easy to forget her age because she is so articulate and precocious. Her love of reading reminds me so much of how much I loved escaping into new worlds reading as a child. Something I would have even loved more would have been to read with my parents. We just weren’t a family that did things like that. I want to be different with my daughter. The book we chose to read is the new James Patterson book that he has released under his new Jimmy Patterson Young Readers series.
“Jackie Ha Ha” was provided to us from Mom Select to read and review as a mother/daughter team. For two nights I read from the book to my girl before bed. It was on the second night that I stopped reading it to her and learned a valuable lesson. As eager as I was to have a bonding moment with her I had to step back and remember two things: 1) She is only 6 years old and her world view is very different than mine, and 2) While I may be eager to be her friend I am first and foremost her mother.
It’s on the second night into the reading the book that I realized that the subject matter may not be appropriate for my daughter. The writing is extremely well executed and the world is so vividly described that the characters feel real, I as an advanced reader know that it is just a book. My daughter does not. She is still young enough that the line between reality and her imagination is very thin.
In the book, our guide through life is Jackie Hart, dubbed “Jackie Ha Ha” by her classmates because of her stutter. She uses her wit and humor to disarm situations that could bring her down. She has six sisters, a military mother who is off in Operation Desert Shield, a father who is a lifeguard, and is stuck smack in the middle of growing up. The book is written as though Jackie herself is telling her daughter about the year 1990 and how that year changed everything. Our girl Jackie finds herself acting out from the moment school starts that year, and due to the impressive tally of detentions she racks up she finds herself presented with an option: either pretty much live in detention, or join the school musical “You’re a good man Charlie Brown”. A new drama teacher that Jackie immediately clicks with convinces her that playing Snoopy is the better choice. While all of the hilarity of Jackie’s school antics are going on, a lot of really heavy subject matter is also looming (just like real life does). Her father is a lifeguard and Jackie finds him spending more and more time with the most beautiful girl on the beach. As he stays out late most nights without any explanation, Jackie begins to believe with worst and fears what will happen to their family if/when her mother returns from deployment.
This is when I stopped reading the book with my daughter.
While I won’t spoil the ending, Jackie learns a valuable lesson about making assumptions and it all works out nicely for the Hart family. The issue for me is this: There are things scarier than monsters to children. One of the biggest things is the fear of losing their family. And for those who have have lost their family to infidelity, this musts touch an even deeper nerve. The seeds of doubt and fear that come from realizing that your parents are human and your world is breakable are not something to be introduced lightly. This is where I made my mistakes with this “book club”. I was so eager to develop a friendship with my growing daughter that I forgot she is only six years old and she needs her mom more. Her mom should have known to vet a book before reading it to her. But like Jackie, we are all learning.
I very much do recommend the book though. There are tough themes (including a death) that make fantastic talking points and have the potential to open the door for great conversations between you and your daughter. It was a great read and I will be revisiting it with my daughter down the line. Selfishly, I still want her to be innocent and not ask the questions that will inevitably out her father and I as flawed humans. Now is just not the time for her, and if I am honest with myself it is not the time for me either.