The story Jake Riley:
Irreparably Damage by Rebecca Fjelland Davis is a story centering on the
problems experienced by a newly released juvenile delinquent- Jake Riley. His
story is told through the eyes of Jake's neighbor Lainey, who is the main
victim to his disturbing actions. Lainey first introduces him to the reader as
unbalanced by describing his enjoyment of disemboweling fireflies for their
lights. Jake continuously makes sexual advances towards her, to the point of
harassment and threatens Lainey with her life. He tells her that his file
titles him "Irreparably Damaged" and in an effort to prove the title
wrong, she protects Jake even when she believes he endangers her. Davis
presents a promising story however, her chosen characterizations are detrimental
to the narration because they are unrealistic and show little depth.
There are many examples throughout
the book that demonstrate the implausibility of the choices and reactions of
the characters. For example, Lainey's mother is rarely described other than to
yell, "Don't slam that door," every time Lainey enters or leaves the
house.† Then, when Lainey finally tells her mother and father about Jake's
threats and advances, they blame her for his actions and buy her calves of her
own to teach her responsibility. Lainey faces death threats from Jake
throughout half the book and yet the other characters that know do nothing.
This leaves the reader dissatisfied and profoundly frustrated because their
actions are so unbelievable.
The impression one receives from
reading the book is that the character's personalities were taken into little
consideration. At the end of the story, what is known about the characters can
be summed up in one sentence each, even for Lainey and Jake. Lainey enjoys
Track and likes to read. Arcadia is mysterious. Jake is twisted. All of the
characters remain flat and do not change which leads the reader to believe that
their personalities and characterizations were little planned or deemed
unimportant. Due to the lack of depth for each character, their actions seem
superficial and unwarranted and because of this, the value of the story is
Another problem arises in that the
encounters Lainey has with other characters are so similar, that it is hard to
distinguish between each event. The variety that is essential to a well thought
out plot is lacking. No matter the scene, Jake is always a "pervert"
or "sicko." Jailene always talks about her boyfriend Peter. Her
parents always reprimand her for not being responsible or respectful to Jake.
And Lainey is always scared to death. It is difficult to maintain a clear
memory of the stream of events because they are so comparable. Again, this
leaves the reader dissatisfied because the characters appear one-dimensional.
The story of Jake Riley:
Irreparably Damaged is an interesting concept filled with much potential
for success. However, the story fails to live up to readers' expectations and
creates a sense of disappointment after its conclusion.
© 2004 Elyse Levesque
Elyse Levesque is currently a High
School junior who challenges herself with Advanced Placement courses and
advanced credit classes from Syracuse University. She will be applying to
colleges in a few months and hopes to study English and Theatre.