‘The Taking of Jake Livingston’ by Ryan Douglas Review.

Synopsis

Jake Livingston is one of the only Black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his infinitely more popular older brother. It’s hard enough fitting in but to make matters worse and definitely more complicated, Jake can see the dead. In fact he sees the dead around him all the time. Most are harmless. Stuck in their death loops as they relive their deaths over and over again, they don’t interact often with people. But then Jake meets Sawyer. A troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost, he has plans for his afterlife–plans that include Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about ghosts and the rules to life itself go out the window as Sawyer begins haunting him and bodies turn up in his neighbourhood. High school soon becomes a survival game–one Jake is not sure he’s going to win.

Book Information
Author: Ryan Douglass
Genre: YA
Publication Date: July 13th 2021
Page Count: 244
Review: 4/5

Review

Are you looking for a nice, pleasant read to fill up the cold Autumn evenings? Well, this isn’t for you. If you are searching for a haunting read that leaves you feeling a little uneasy, then you’ve found the one.

Race, sexuality, ghosts. The three main themes of this book. This book has two very different characters, but with two very similar experiences – both were outcasts, neither of them felt accepted or understood by society, their friends, or their family.

The book follows Jake, the only black kid in his school and they know it. An outcast in the classroom and not understood at home. But this isn’t Jake’s only problem – he can also see spirits of dead people, and one in particular is proving to be rather bothersome. That someone is Sawyer. Sawyer had a hard life himself, but he also killed a bunch of his classmates so we can’t really feel too sorry for him. Jake struggles to figure out his identity, not only as a black person, but also as a gay man, whilst he is being tormented by Sawyer who is growing stronger and more murderous by the day. The book switches perspectives to old entries from Sawyer’s diary that gives us some much-needed insight into the inner workings of his brain, in addition to increasing the over-flowing pot of suspense that the book entails as we discover the severity of Jake’s situation and how much of a danger Sawyer is after each diary entry.

You can find yourself constantly rooting for Jake, not only because he was being haunted by the ghost of a murderous teenager but because he was also being haunted by his past and who he truly was. The book covered many important, current issues that many people face such as the inability to be themselves and be accepted for who they are whether that be regarding race or sexuality – both of which Jake was struggling to be accepted for. Jake’s life wasn’t all bad, yes, he was the only black kid in school and yes, he could see spirits of the dead, but we also saw him blossom into his true self by standing up for himself, his peers and for what he believes is right. The book highlighted the struggles young black gay people face in today’s society which was great as these things happen and they need to be talked about.

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39085455-the-taking-of-jake-livingston

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