Jake takes place during one of the single most powerfully shaping times in a person's life--secondary education. Through the metaphor of the utopian and fictitious St. Stephen's Episcopal School, author Arch Montgomery shows us how our humanity can only be fully realized through other humans. The book depicts three deaths and one near-fatal disease while simultaneously tracking the rebirth of Jake, the titular and main character. He moves from a transparent "only-good-as-I-have-to-be" mentality to a lifestyle of excellence and three-dimensionality with the help of his school, which is personified through the characters of Mary White, rector; George Meader, teacher; and Joel Kohn, student.
Jake presents both Montgomery's view of public school systems (which Jake, without a drop of nostalgia, refers to as "out in the county") and his view of an ideal school, which, in this case, comes in the form of an independent school, though the tenets that make it so admirable could be applied to almost any school--public, independent, parochial, or otherwise. Mixing real-world models with an informed idealism, Montgomery creates St. Stephen's in order to demonstrate the most positive influence a school can have on one person.
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January 27, 2012
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