Wennick, Elizabeth. Changing Jareth. Raincoast, 2000. ISBN 978-1896095974 192 pp. $3.99
Jareth is a neglected teen on the verge of turning into a statistic: a suicide attempt is triggered by his abusive alcoholic mother (in police custody for beating his sickly younger brother nearly to death). A friend’s stepfather becomes his salvation. The healing process includes learning trust and responsibility through new friends, a job, turning around the life of a younger teen, and developing his artistic talent.
This was an well done book with a lousy packaging. The title stinks… just Jareth would have been better. The misleading blurb on the back implies that Jareth goes into therapy to change. Although he attends two therapy sessions and spends a day in a mental hospital, neither is helpful, and Jareth ultimately is his own catalyst. The cover art, a photo of an attractive, smooth skinned young man, is unappealing. The writing however, is detailed and real. Jareth is a complex and dynamic character, and the supporting cast are well-drawn individuals. Occasionally the author’s voice intrudes, especially at the end of each section, and the epilogue appears tacked on and heavy-handed. Still, teens who can get past the cover will enjoy this survival story.