Gatsby, Reinvented for a Young Audience

Korman, Gordon. Jake, Reinvented. New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2003.

jake.jpgJake, Reinvented is a modern retelling of the American classic, The Great Gatsby. Transplanted into a 21st century High School, coincidentally named F. Scott Fitzgerald High, Jake, Reinvented tells the story of the new kid in town, Jake, who quickly ascends to royalty within the castes of High School society. The story is told through the eyes of our narrator, Rick. Rick attends all of Jake’s outrageously extravagant Friday night keggers, and becomes good friends with Jake. It soon becomes evident that Jake has goals for himself in his new setting, and one of which is to reconnect with his old crush, Didi. Didi is essentially the queen of F. Scott, seas of high schoolers part in her path, it’s clear that every boy in school would do anything to make her their girlfriend. Unfortunately for the boys, if Didi is queen, her king is Todd Buckley. He is the head man on campus at F. Scott, he decides what is and is not cool, and he runs the school football team as their quarterback. Rick is also good friends with Todd, so as tensions rise between Todd and Jake, Rick is forced to make tough decisions. His choices are influenced by many facets of Jake and Todd’s personalities. Todd, a longtime friend but one that comes with many flaws. Jake, a seemingly flawless friend at first, but whose mysterious past soon catches up with him.

The way the ending of Jake, Reinvented differs from that of Gatsby reflects the differences in the stories themselves. While some may argue Jake’s ending is less dramatic than Gatsby, it really needs to be because of the settings. While no one dies in Jake’s story, someone does experience the equivalent for a high schooler, loss of identity. This ending is considerably different than that of Gatsby but the ideas and overall message are still there especially for younger readers.

Young readers will be able to identify well with not only the overriding themes of the story, but also with all of the subtle details. Any reader will find that throughout this story they are constantly able to identify certain characters and aspects of the novel with people, places, and events from their high school experience. Readers that are not in middle or high school can still relate to this novel as they can reflect on their times back in middle or high school and the struggles to be popular or liked they may have faced.

The re-telling of an American classic is illustrated beautifully in Jake, Reinvented as Gordon Korman explores The Great Gatsby in the 21st century. One can see similar love interests and friendships form throughout the novel very similar to those in Gatsby. One will not be disappointed in the retelling of such a famous classic.


Recommendations for Teachers
Being a modern interpretation of The Great Gatsby, this novel would be a great accompanying piece for a unit on Gatsby. It is by no means a replacement for the classic, but it would certainly be a way for the students to better connect with the ideas and themes these stories tell. Students will connect much easier with the ideas of Jake, Reinvented so then after reading both novels they would be able to continue those connections into the story of The Great Gatsby. Because The Great Gatsby’s setting is so intangible to 21st century students, reading Jake, Reinvented will help to bridge that gap.
The themes expressed in Gatsby, though somewhat outdated, are very important to America at the time and students should read the novel before the retelling. Jake, Reinvented is a great novel to read post-Gatsby as the students can better grasp the ideas originally expressed in Gatsby.
Korman has made some changes in the novel that help bridge that gap. Instead of the characters being socialites in New York, all of the characters are in a modern, typical high school setting. Korman took the themes in The Great Gatsby and put them in the normal high school students life. Because of this, Jake, Reinvented is a great novel for teachers to use in their classroom. The themes that Korman introduces include drinking, peer pressure, relationships and popularity. By adding these new aspects to the story, Korman has found a way to introduce a classic story in an appealing way for modern students.
Not only has this novel taken a classic and made it into something more relatable today, students in middle or high school can enjoy this book as it can relate to many grade levels. As explored in The Great Gatsby, the idea of finding true love through outrageous parties and money will not only teach young teens the difference between love and infatuation, but the real importance in friendship.


About Gordon Korman
GordonKormanColor.jpgImage from gordonkorman.com

Gordon Korman was born October 23, 1963 in Montreal, Quebec in Canada. He currently lives in New York City with his wife and three children. He wrote his very first novel, while he was only 12, which was published when he was 14. Gordon Korman wrote 4 more books before graduating high school which won him the Air Canada award as the most promising young writer in Canada at age 17.

Gordon writes mostly comedic young adult and children stories but also has an action/adventure series (The Island Trilogy), and rewrote F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic the Great Gatsby in his novel Jake, Reinvented. Scholastic and Hyperion Press have published his 70 books and he is currently working on four more titles due to be released later in 2012. His books have also been translated into French, Swedish, Norwegian and Cantonese.

Gordon’s inspiration comes from Robert Cormier, Kurt Vonnegut, Joseph Heller, and Paul Zindel. He also publicly admits to being a Harry Potter fan and his other “fave” kids book writers are Jerry Spinelli, Cris Crutcher and Jack Gantos. Gordon Korman has an extensive travel schedule to meet with his fans and travels to schools across America and Canada to meet with students and to spark their ideas and interests in reading and writing.Biographical Information from gordonkorman.com


Gordon Korman "Pops" Off on YouTube
In this interview Gordon Korman talks about his love of football and how events in his life inspired him to write his novel Pop.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vr42lFpLzCc <-- YouTube video for the book trailer of Jake, Reinvented

Additional Resources:

--Aaron Mascarello, Bryce Carlton, Rachael Dole, Ryan Murphy.