Jason and Marceline by Jerry Spinelli

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(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Jason and Marceline is set in Avon Oaks, a fictitious town in Pennsylvania based on Norristown, where Spinelli grew up. The time is around 1985, something the reader learns when Jason mentions that the spacecraft Pioneer left the edges of the solar system two years earlier. Pioneer 10 left the solar system in June 1983.

Literary Qualities

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The plot of Jason and Marceline is basically episodic; that is, it consists of what is really a series of short stories without too much unity between them except that all are episodes in the ninth grade life of Jason Herkimer. In the course of the novel, Jason, the narrator, matures, even though in many of the individual episodes he seems very immature.

Although Jason and Marceline is not as accomplished a novel as Spinelli's Newbery Award-wining book, Maniac Magee, it is still enjoyable to read, especially because of its humor. It is written in language fairly simple to understand, the kind of language a boy like Jason would use, and it uses the kind of language that a ninth grader would employ, including slang. Because of this, several reviewers of Jason and Marceline call the book "crude," and at least one writes of its "locker-room talk."

Jason refers several times to the Star Trek television series and movies, and he sees his own sexual adventures as a kind of Star Trek exploration. He refers to the movie versions of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Bride of Frankenstein, allusions that may help clarify some of the conflicting emotions Jason feels throughout the novel, especially during the times when he and Marceline are having problems and when they are not going together.

Social Sensitivity

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Jason and Marceline treats forthrightly some aspects of entering adolescence that may make some readers uneasy. It treats experimentation in drinking beer and relatively harmless sexual experimentation. It involves interracial dating when Peter Kim goes out with Jewel Fiorito. In Marceline McAllister, it presents a very self-assured, mature young woman. At times, her maturity contrasts markedly with the immaturity of Jason and some of his friends.

(The entire section is 589 words.)