51 pages 1 hour read

Gordon Korman

Jake, Reinvented

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2003

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Summary and Study Guide


Jake, Reinvented retells the American literary classic The Great Gatsby (1925) through the lens of the modern high school experience. Canadian author Gordon Korman published Jake, Reinvented in 2003, and the American Library Association named it one of that year’s Best Books for Young Adults. Korman is a prolific writer for children and young adults, having published over 100 books over his four-decade career as an author.

Korman’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby brings that narrative about the 1920s into the 21st century, making the original novel’s characters and themes accessible to a modern audience. By reinterpreting the original narrative, Korman’s teenage story reveals the persistence of The American Dream, the struggle of Appearance Versus Substance, and the dangers of overindulgence, whether that be in the Jazz Age or in a modern world of High School Hedonism.

This guide uses the 2013 Kindle e-book edition of Jake, Reinvented for its references and page numbers.

Content Warning: The novel and this guide discuss abortion.

Plot Summary

The novel opens with Rick Paradis—a high school senior and the story’s narrator—as he attends an unsupervised teenage house party hosted by a mysterious newcomer to the school named Jake. Todd Buckley, the high school’s star quarterback, attends the party with Rick. Todd is dating Didi Ray, the most beautiful girl in town, but he cheats on her at Jake’s party with a girl named Melissa, who is currently dating the enormous and “meat-headed” Nelson Jaworski. Rick eventually bumps into Jake at the party and is instantly struck by his cool-guy demeanor and magnetic personality.

As the school year begins, Rick and Jake become friends. One day, Jake takes Rick on a trip to a nearby college campus, where he picks up a keg of beer for his next party in exchange for some white envelopes. Rick is unsure about what the envelopes contain, but he is impressed by Jake’s charisma and popularity with the college students.

At Jake’s request, Rick invites his long-term crush, Jennifer, to Jake’s next house party. Jennifer is close friends with Didi, who accompanies Jennifer to Jake’s house. At the party, Todd is nearly found out for cheating on Didi and clumsily covers up his infidelity. When Didi meets Jake, Rick learns that the two of them have a history. Jake was Didi’s math tutor when he went to a different high school. Didi and Jake spend the whole evening together and seem to have a romantic connection.

The day after the party, Rick helps Jake clean up the immense mess from the night before. As he spends more time with Jake, Rick discovers that Jake has a hidden personality and a secret agenda. Jake is in love with Didi, but she rejected him back when he was her math tutor because he was nerdy and unpopular. To win Didi over, Jake reinvented himself at the new high school, changing his appearance and demeanor and throwing wild parties in the hopes of impressing her.

At first, Jake’s plan appears to be working. Didi is still dating Todd, but she and Jake begin seeing each other regularly. They sometimes bring Rick and Jennifer along when they spend time together, using their friends as social cover in the pretense that they aren’t being romantic. Jennifer sometimes flirts with Rick, but he can’t tell if she is being serious or ironic, since the one time that they did go on a date it fell apart and Rick was left embarrassed and alone.

Rick continues to learn more about Jake’s hidden self, including that Jake finances his parties by ghostwriting essays for college students in exchange for money and access to alcohol. Jake’s love for Didi borders on obsession, and he becomes increasingly agitated that she won’t break up with Todd even though she and Todd don’t seem to really care for each other.

Nelson eventually finds out that Todd has been hooking up with Melissa behind his back. When Nelson angrily confronts Todd, Todd tricks Nelson into thinking that Jake was really the one hooking up with Melissa. Jake throws what will end up being his final party. It is the wildest yet. During the party, Jennifer reveals to Rick that her feelings for him are genuine. They begin kissing in the bathroom, but Rick breaks it off after Jennifer shows a lack of sympathy for Jake’s doomed dream of being with Didi.

Todd shows up and confronts Jake in front of all the partygoers. Todd reveals Jake’s secret history as a nerdy and bullied teen, destroying Jake’s reputation. Suddenly, Nelson charges into the house and attacks Jake for his perceived affair with Melissa. A misaimed firework goes off, setting the house on fire, just as Didi smashes a champagne bottle on Nelson, saving Jake and knocking Nelson unconscious. After everyone flees the burning house, the police inquire about who attacked Nelson, who appears to be seriously injured. Not wanting Didi to get in trouble, Jake falsely confesses to the crime. No one, including Didi, speaks up in his defense.

As Nelson recovers in the hospital, the police charge Jake for the violent attack. Rick implores Jake to tell the truth about what happened, but Jake is so in love with Didi that he won’t put her in danger. Rick tries to convince the rest of the high schoolers to come to Jake’s trial to support him, but no one shows up except Dipsy—the school’s misfit who appears to be the only one besides Rick to feel a sense of empathy towards Jake. Jake eventually takes a plea deal in which he won’t face jail time in exchange for leaving the state permanently. He is gutted that Didi didn’t come to support him at the trial.

Rick bids Jake goodbye, telling him that he is a better person than the selfish Todd and Didi. As Jake departs, Rick notices that Jennifer secretly attended Jake’s trial as well, showing that she does have a conscience after all. Jennifer and Rick reconnect, and she asks whether he thinks that Jake will reinvent himself again at his new high school. Rick replies that there is only one Jake. He and Jennifer end the novel hand in hand.