Last year, Mally Jacobs was the weird kid in school, but that was before he spent a summer in New York, witnessed the Stonewall Riots, and kissed his first boyfriend. Now he's back in Oklahoma, calling himself "Jake," and using his new-found basketball skills to impress his friends and earn a name for himself. But the small town of Croy is a far cry from the freedom and daring he tasted in New York. Can he find a place for himself while holding on to a secret?
At its core, Jacob’s Ladder is an elegant meditation on the power of friendship, even in the most uncertain times. The story is strong enough to be presented as a standalone novel; even new readers will be drawn in this late in the series, and they’ll find ample reasons to seek out Ceci’s earlier books. Jake, his boyfriend Vince, and the various inhabitants of Croy are colorful, engaging, and complex. Jake’s struggle to come to terms with the close-mindedness of his schoolmates and his desire to help another long-suffering classmate, Beau, are touching. Charming line illustrations by Jennifer Rain Crosby give extra life to the story and a face to the characters.
Ceci’s atmospheric prose captures the ethos of the era as church and school clash, the war rages on, and the Beatles give way toThe Brady Bunch. Ceci’s skillful, empathetic examination of sexuality, youth culture, and religion is not just welcome but necessary, in any time of upheaval. Young readers who may be coming to grips with their own sexuality will be drawn to the openness and honesty of this depiction and the likeability of the cast. Ceci’s honest, realistic depiction of teenage life in the 1960s and 1970s will resonate with young and older audiences alike.
Takeaway: A moving novel of going home and coming of age while gay as the 1960s end.
Great for fans of: Jim Grimsley’s Dream Boy, Fenton Johnson’s Scissors, Paper, Rock.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
“Ceci follows his warm and involving novel, Comfort Me, with yet more adventures of these very real, lovable and compelling young people. Equally touching are the grown-ups who are trying to hold their kids' fragile world together. You won't want the story to end.”
“A delightful story of adolescence in a rural America about to change forever.”