Fitzgerald Reinvented: A Modern Uptake on a Classic Novel

"Jake Reinvented" by Gordon Korman. Published by Hyperion Books (New York: 2003)

"Only if you want, " he replied airily. "It's totally up to you, baby." Thus is a story placed in the setting of high school intrigue, jocks, partying, J. Crew catalogues, makeout sessions and binge drinking. F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic Gatsby receives a facelift and goes back to high school in this novel by Gordon Korman. Gatsby, trading his term "sport" for a more modern "baby", is transformed by Kormon into the allusive Jake Garrett, a new student at F. Scott Fitzgerald High and the snapper on the high school's football team. The story is narrated by Rick as he watches the development of Jake into the social setting of the high school life. Rick is baffled by Jack's crazy Friday night parties and college connections that earn him popularity over night. What's the purpose of all these parties?

The answer is Didi. As Daisy was to Gatsby, so Didi is to Jake Garrett. Scorned by Didi at their former high school because of his "math nerd" status, Jack sets out to transform his image completely and thereby win the heart of the girl that he loves. The only problem is that Didi is dating Todd Buckley, the most popular student at F. Scott Fitzgerald and, of course, the quaterback on the football team. Will Jake prove his worth to his fellow students with his cool parties and college connections? Will Didi finally ditch Todd and be with Jake? Will Nelson discover that it's really Todd who's messing with his girlfriend Melissa? Will Dipsy get his pants from the laughing senior students?

Will the underdog finally have his day??

Although this novel is a great retelling of The Great Gatsby, it doesn't provide context that teachers could use such as the historical context in Gatsby, the Roaring Twenties. However, this novel can be used along side Gatsby and should encouraged as further outside reading to develope further analysis of Gatsby. It's a wonderful novel with a interesting story, but it might be better if used either alongside The Great Gatsby or outside the classroom setting.

Korman, Gordon. Jake Reinvented. Markham, Ont.: Scholastic Canada, 2003. Print

Critique from the Perspective of a Teacher:

From an English teacher’s perspective, to whom both writing and reading are priorities; the teachable validity of Jake Reinvented must be weighed. The sometimes challenging task of persuading students to actually read a novel is the responsibility of the English teacher. For this reason, the modern version of Fitzgerald’s classic The Great Gatsby, has a place in the secondary classroom. Modern-day remixes of iconic literature appeal to students because they are more likely to be able to relate to language that the characters use.
Perhaps it is unfair to Gordan Korman to give a critique of Jake Reinvented while comparing it to The Great Gatsby. After all, Jake Reinvented is story with a similar plot to The Great Gatsby and should not be taken as a literal abridged modernization. A teacher can choose whether or not to introduce Jake Reinvented alongside of The Great Gatsby or to use it individually. Depending on the maturity of the classroom, a teacher may wish to use excerpts from Jake Reinvented while using The Great Gatsby as the main text. There are many useful suggestions given by educators on how to teach literature in the classroom. One of these suggestions is to use drama as a means of engaging students in the story (Wilhelm, 133). By giving the students a prompt that was inspired by the book, students are then able to demonstrate through acting the personae of the characters. This activity could also be a good introduction to talking about the risks of adopting some of the behavior patters that were illustrated by some characters in Jake Reinvented. In cessation, Jake Reinvented would be most useful in a classroom setting when taught either partially or entirely alongside of Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.

Wilhelm, Jeffrey D. You Gotta Be the Book: Teaching Engaged and Reflective Reading with Adolescents. New York, NY: Teachers College, 2008. Print.

About the Author:

external image GordonKormanColor.jpg
Gordan Korman was born in October of 1963 in Canada. He has approximately 55 books he has written. His first book, This can't be happening at Macdonald Hall, was written when he was twelve years old for his English teacher in seventh grade: the track and field coach. He later added the coach to his book Sixth Grade Nickname Game.The first 20 novels Korman wrote were published by Scholastic, and the company continues to publish him today (1).

Eventually, Korman settled in New York City where he studied film and film writing. When asked if any of his books would be turned into movies, he replied that "[he] sells film rights all the time, but the decision about whether or not a movie or TV show gets made is up to the producer. It's always kind of a long shot... [but] right now there are exciting projects in the works... [He's] keeping [his] fingers crossed" (2). He is still signed with Scholastic and has new works in the making. He continues to write both young adult and children's literature.

Korman currently lives in Long Island outside of New York City with his wife and three children.

Gordan Korman Official Website:
1. "Biography" page.
2. "Ask Gordan" page.

Multimedia (Audio or Visual)

Here's the author speaking on his love for football and what inspired him to write his novel, Pop.

Here's a movie trailer of the Great Gatsby set to the music of Beyonce.

Here's a summary of The Great Gatsby by SparkNotes for those who are unfamiliar with the story.

Additional Resources

Buy the book!
Learn about the effects of teen drinking Great facts and statistics about the effects of teen drinking
J Crew Link to the J Crew catalogue to see how Jake Garrett dressed
Underage Drinking A federal resource aimed at spreading awareness about underage drinking
The Problem of Teen Drinking How adults must be active in stopping teen drinking
How adults enable teen drinking The role that adults play in enabling teens to drink
The effects of teen drinking A website providing awareness on the effects of teen drinking
Statistical evidence for the usage of alcohol among teens Statistics about the prevalence of teen drinking
Ebook of The Great Gatsby Read the Great Gatsby online
Jack Clayton's Great Gatsby Description of the 1974 movie
Teens answer the question, Who am I? Publications on helping teens discover the person they truly are
Teen Search for Identity Parent guide to understanding and aiding in teenage identity
Videos on Teenage Identity Life123 videos from teens and parents on identity
Statistics on Single Parenting Effects single parenting has on children and teens
Teen statistics Statistics about teenage issues, including sex, alcohol, and violence

by Carol B, Melanie Gasior and Trisha Haak