Review: Jacky Ha-Ha, My Life is a Joke, by James Patterson

Published on ReadKiddoRead.com, January 2018.

In this second installment of the Jacky Ha-Ha series, Jacky Hart leads the reader through a summer in Seaside Heights, her small town along the New Jersey coast. With carnival games, junk food, and plenty of leisure time, school is out and antics on the tourist-lined boardwalk are in!

But all great plans are put on hold when the Hart sisters learn they will have to get summer jobs to help make ends meet at home. Fortunately, Jacky quickly puts her theatrical chops to good use by drumming up business at a carnival stand, earning herself a job and quite the reputation.

Meanwhile, Ms. O’Mara, beloved theater teacher, rallies Jacky and her friends to audition for a local production of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream featuring an all-star Broadway cast. In between shifts at the carnival stand, Jacky and her friends – familiar faces from the first book in the series – attend rehearsals and prepare to be stars in the making.

As Jacky faces the bright lights of the stage, she must once again conquer her stutter, this time while navigating middle-school romance and intrigue: just why are all the boys acting so strange? What is with Ms. O’Mara’s mysterious nephew? And who is stealing from the shops along boardwalk?

Illustrations throughout the novel provide an aside to the reader, elaborating and embellishing scenes to comic effect and in keeping with Jacky’s wit, charm, and imagination.

Even with a large ensemble cast, there’s no question Jacky is the heroine of her tale. Summer-time crushes, a healthy dose of sleuthing, and plenty of laughs will keep readers turning the page to see how Jacky will get herself into – and out of – trouble all summer long.

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