Can the Real JR Stand Up, Please?
July, 2021, Dixi Books
2022 CBCA NOTABLE BOOK
Seventeen-year-old Jake Rollins’ life is a nightmare. His dad is determined to use his family as a punching bag, and Jake is powerless to stop him.
Urban gritty meets magical realism in this coming-of-age story about what it means to be bigger than where you come from.
Can the Real JR Stand Up, Please is a gripping and, at times confronting read; a roller-coaster ride, yet a hopeful novel about being true to yourself and learning to be brave.
For readers who love a dose of magic with their realism.
This is a tight, compact and cleverly realistic story. It includes many themes such as family violence, friendship/love, insecurity, creativity and survival. Family violence is described very realistically and demonstrates the frustrating powerlessness of bystanders. The main character is authentic and sympathetic. The writing is economical, dispensing with unnecessary detail thus producing a succinct and easily accessible, albeit confronting story which packs power. Despite the seriousness of the problems explored, the characters ultimately embark on their adult life with a feeling of hope, making this a story of optimism and courage.
CBCA Judges' Critique (Older Readers Category)
This actually made me cry, and that’s a good thing! I love the ending so much!
Ariel, age 15 years
Can the Real JR Stand Up, Please, is a thoughtful and thought provoking exploration of domestic violence. It takes readers into the life of someone who is enduring this sort of home life, showing that even if everything may seem okay on the surface, reality may be very different. It’s ultimately hopeful resolution may offer possibilities to readers who connect with its themes.
Reading Time, CBCA
The novel is lovely, …and there is something of the rebel — if not in JR, yet — in the narrator or the way the story exposes some things not often treated as a theme or central idea.
Michele Drouart, Editor and Author
Despite being an emotional person and an avid reader, it’s rare that I’m moved to tears by a book. But this book… oh my god this book! It had me in tears by the end and I was so emotionally attached to JR and his story. He’s an incredibly sweet and talented kid with a horrible home life, but his bravery - one of the big themes of this novel - is astounding and I can’t believe how proud of him I am. At only 150 pages, it’s not a huge read but it does pack a huge punch and I would have gladly read on for hundreds more pages. The content is very heavy at times but I think it’s handled very well.
Bianca Breen, Writer
'Can the Real JR Stand Up, Please?' follows seventeen-year-old Jake Rollins' tumultuous life surviving in a violent home.
This book reinforced for me the importance of having positive connections in your life. Luckily, Jake had Phee, a classmate, and her parents, in his corner. They care and believed in Jake, and his artistic talent. They offered him the safe haven he desperately needed.
Seeing Jake grow in self-belief over the course of the novel was very satisfying and should give hope to other teenagers who find themselves in similar circumstances. There are heavy themes in the novel but these are handled really well. I'm a huge fan of books with underdogs overcoming life's obstacles and triumphing so 'Can the Real JR Stand Up, Please?' was a real heart-tugging, gratifying read.