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Reviewed by Michael McManus for Readers' Favorite
When we meet Jackie for the first time, we encounter a third-grader who is abused by his father and tormented by his classmates. Diagnosed with Autism, Jackie does not fit into the world correctly and is ultimately pulled out of school to be educated at home. When we are introduced to Jimmie, a child who comes as close as anyone to being a friend to Jackie, we learn that peer pressure forces him to embarrass Jackie with a childish prank, one that Jimmie regrets doing for the rest of his life. Thirteen years pass and Jimmie has become an unmotivated, under-achiever living with his parents and unemployed. Although he did earn a degree in English, his prospects of using that degree to earn a living are limited. After months of a failed job search, his mother pulls some strings and gets him an interview at the county’s Department of Social Services. Jimmie is hired to do interviews with welfare recipients to determine if they are, in fact, eligible and are receiving the services for which the county is paying. One of his interviews leads him to the home of one Jackson (Jackie) Rogers, where he finds a handsome young man who has never developed socially from the odd child he once knew. Through a strange, but understandable, turn of events, Jimmie loses his interviewing job but becomes Jackie’s full-time custodian. That is when Jimmie learns of Jackie’s remarkable gift. Through the next two years, Jimmie works to exploit Jackie’s talent. The results of his efforts are inspiring.
The author of Jackie, Dr. Sam Newsome, does a marvelous job of describing the title character’s disability and his gift. I highly recommend this book. The story line keeps you turning the pages and the characters make you cheer at times and cry at others. It is a wonderful read.