The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green Summary

The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Set in early 1980’s New Jersey, the story’s thirteen-year-old Orthodox Jewish narrator, Jacob Green, hopelessly tries to make sense of puberty, his life in a new town, being in a public school for the first time, and his parent’s unhappy marriage. Jacob spends much time in the company of his witty, telling, and sometimes troubling thoughts, which sustain him through his dysfunctional family and the usual teenage bewilderment that accompanies adolescence.

Idolizing his rebellious punk rock older brother Asher, Jacob feels betrayed by him when Asher receives a scholarship and leaves for college in Rhode Island. His mother, Clair, who recently returned to university, now devotes more time to her studies (and her professor), than she does to her family. Jacob’s biggest difficulty however is with his father, a perfectionist with an insatiable need to be loved by his family and community. Abram Green can suddenly change from being encouraging and loving, to being degrading and angry, within a blink of an eye. Never knowing what will set their father off, the children try to please him from a distance.

Simultaneously heart wrenching and hilarious, author Joshua Braff is able to get inside the mind of thirteen-year-old Jacob, who struggles between being a man in the eyes of his temple, and a very confused adolescent in the eyes of everyone else.