Reinventing Gatsby, Korman Style


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

jake.jpg Jake, Reinvented is a creative retelling of the classic novel The Great Gatsby. The story is set against the background of F.Scott Fitzgerald High School. It is narrated by Rick, the second string quarterback on the Fitzgerald team. Through Rick, readers come to know the enigma that is Jake Garret, an instantly popular heart throb that seems to drop out of football heaven to earn a spot on the team as a long snapper. Jake also becomes instantly popular. Readers witness the extravagant, and oftentimes out of control, parties that he throws to elevate his social status. Readers are also forced to watch jealousy, deception, and betrayal drag Jake and the rest of the characters into a dramatic and somewhat frustrating ending.

Overall, the book challenges readers to question the meaning of true friendship. They see how a person can be constantly surrounded by people and yet still be utterly alone. Upon finishing the book readers are left with a feeling of uneasiness and uncertainty about the relationships that were presented to them. The entire social hierarchy of the high school environment is brought under scrutiny and readers are put face to face with the troubled reality that this environment creates. That being said, this book, although somewhat simple in format and style, is a great read.

Recommendations for Teachers
Jake, Reinvented is a novel depicting what many might call a “typical” high school social atmosphere. This could certainly be argued, but what we can be sure of is that many high school students will find some familiarity within the pages of Korman’s 2003 novel. The author’s official website says that “Jake, Reinvented is a novel loosely based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby” while Korman himself states that the novel is “about popularity, social status and especially wild, wild parties” (1). The parallels between this modern young adult novel and Fitzgerald’s classic novel are certainly apparent to anyone who has read either. For this reason, Jake, Reinvented could be a very useful work for an English teacher to have in his/her catalogue. There are a number of ways in which the two novels could be paired. Jake, Reinvented could certainly serve as an intro to the classic, working to place Gatsby within the students’ own context. The two novels could be read side by side, in literature circles or outside of class as a way of demonstrating cultural mobility, and making the meaning of both texts more relevant and rich. The possibilities for intertwining these two novels are vast.

There are a few negative things that should be brought up concerning this novel. While it is not particularly controversial or graphic in nature, it does deal with some more mature social situations (particularly the sexual and social drinking lives of young adults). Think of this before introducing it to your students. Strangely the novel seems to be written at a fairly low reading level. The contrast between content and style is somewhat jarring, but doesn’t necessarily spoil the novel or it’s purpose. Truthfully, older students may find this novel stereotypical or cliché, but that does not mean that is will not be useful or effective in helping them engage more deeply with The Great Gatsby.

1. Gordon Korman Official Website. Jake, Reinvented article. <http://gordonkorman.com/jake.htm>
2. Gordon Korman Official Website. “Biography” page. <http://gordonkorman.com/biograph.htm>


About Gordon Korman
GordanKorman.jpg

Gordon Korman, born in 1963, is a Canadian author that grew up in Montreal. His writing career began in 7th grade when he found himself in the class of a first year English teacher. His school’s English department was in a tight spot, so they borrowed one of the track coaches to teach language arts. The inexperienced new teacher allowed the students to spend the year writing whatever they wanted. While many of the kids looked at this as an opportunity to goof off, Korman used the time to write his first novel entitled This Can’t be Happening at McDonald Hall. Scholastic published the novel a year later, when Korman was only 14 years old (2).

After highschool, Korman moved to New York where he studied film and writing. He continued to write books, many of which were published by Scholastic, and some others by Hyperion Press (Son of Interflux , The Sixth Grade Nickname Game , Losing Joe’s Place and the Monday Night Football Club series to name just a few). With more than 55 books to his name, both for young children and young adults, Korman lives on Long Island with his wife and three children (2).


Multimedia

Listen to a Podcast of Jake, Reinvented

Watch an interview with the Author as he talks about how he came to be a writer of Young Adult novels.


A short documentary clip on The Great Gatsby.


Korman's Other Books:
This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall (1978)
Go Jump In The Pool (1979)
Beware The Fish (1980)
I Want To Go Home (1981)
Our Man Weston (1982)
Bugs Potter LIVE at Nickaninny (1983)
The War With Mr. Wizzle (1982)
No Coins Please (1984)
Don't Care High (1985)
Son Of Interflux (1985)
A Semester In The Life Of A Garbage Bag (1987)
The Zucchini Warriors (1988)
Radio 5th Grade (1989)
Losing Joe's Place (1990)
Macdonald Hall Goes Hollywood (1991)
The D- Poems of Jeremy Bloom (1992)
The Twinkie Squad (1992)
The Toilet Paper Tigers (1993)
Why Did The Underwear Cross The Road (1994)
Something Fishy At Macdonald Hall (1995)
The Chicken Doesn't Skate (1996)
Liar, Liar Pants On Fire (1997)
Quarterback Exchange: I was John Elway (1997)
Running Back Conversion: I was Barry Sanders (1997)
Super Bowl Switch: I was Dan Marino (1997)
Heavy Artillary: I was Junior Seau (1997)
Ultimate Scoring Machine: I was Jerry Rice (1998)
NFL Rules! Bloopers, Pranks, Upsets, and Touchdowns (1998)
Slapshots 1 - The Stars From Mars (1999)
Nose Pickers From Outer Space (1999)
All-Mars All-Stars (1999)
No More Dead Dogs (2000)
Planet Of the Nose Pickers (2000)
Slapshots 3 - The Face-off Phony (2000)
Your Mummy Is A Nose Picker (2000)
Slapshots 4 - Cup Crazy (2000)
Invasion Of The Nose Pickers (2001)
Shipwreck (Island Book 1) (2001)
Survival (Island Book 2) (2001)
Escape (Island Book 3) (2001)
Son Of the Mob (2002)
The Contest (Everest Book 1) (2002)
The Climb (Everest Book 2) (2002)
The Summit (Everest Book 3) (2002)
Maxx Comedy: The Funniest Kid in America (2003)
Dive Trilogy (2003)
Son of the Mob: Hollywood Hustle (2004)
On the Run (Series) (2004-2005)
Born to Rock (2005)
Kidnapped (Series) (2006)
Schooled (2008)
Swindle (2008)
The Juvie Three (2008)

Additional Resources:

by Alex Karpike, Johnathon Giarmo, Laura Baltazar

Other Reviews:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky