JACKY HA-HA by James Patterson, read by Tara SandsFall 2016 Audio Book
James Patterson has figured out the formula for writing entertaining books for tween readers. While he's not writing literary heavyweights, and not trying to, he knows how to be fun. And he's got a gift for finding great narrators.
In the prologue to "Jacky Ha-Ha," adult Jacky, explains to her middle-school daughter that life wasn't always smooth for her, so she's going to share her own awkward story of growing up.
Jacky is a class clown; too much so. She tells jokes compulsively, she can't stop even when it gets her in trouble. Her story takes place in the 1990s. George Bush Sr. is president, Nintendo Gameboy is "it" and Jacky's mother is serving in Operation Desert Shield.
A spunky self-conscious middle-schooler, Jacky tells jokes to avoid being one. To get out of the mounting detention she's racked up, she agrees to be in the school play, which is far out of her comfort zone. But as the story moves forward, she has to take a more serious role to keep her family together. With her mother away serving her country, and her father increasingly overwhelmed, Jacky learns that there is a place and time for jokes, and a place and time to grow up.
That said, Patterson's Jacky is a wildly engaging character, and Tara Sand's narration is wonderful. It's light, but it's great fun.