The One and Only Jack Chant by Rosie Borella

The One and Only Jack Chant
Written by Rosie Borella
Published in Australia March 2014
311 Pages
Thank you to Allen and Unwin
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Sixteen year old Amber never expected to find romance while working in an old people's home... But then Jack Chant is not what she expected either. He's young, exciting and enigmatic, and deeply troubled by something that happened in his past, something he can't quite remember. Gradually Amber suspects that Jack's past might be a whole lot further back in time than he realises. Is he solid flesh and blood, or just some kind of dreamy fantasy?

A sweetly romantic coming of age story in which Amber learns more than most teens about getting old, falling in love and letting go.
Amber has just passed her carer's course and is now looking to apply for a full time position at Tranquil Banks Nursing Home, where she completed her practical assessment. While her friends have moved on to university, Amber is at a loss of what she wants to do with her life, deferring her further studies. At home, her parents expect Amber to be the adult, far too much responsibility than her sixteen year old self should shoulder. But with the lure of a full time job, Amber will be able to escape from home, earn her own money and save to flee Stockford and move onto university. Surely working at Tranquil Banks would give her the sense of freedom she so desperately needs.

The residents at Tranquil Banks are certainly entertaining. Floss who doesn't speak, rather than screeches out Bloody Murder and clucks along with nursery rhymes. Mister Hatchett who is Amber's former math teacher, stealing anything that isn't nailed down while telling tall tales of the many lives he's lead. The staff vary from kind hearted and caring, to lazy and perfectionists, but none more neglectful than Mrs Ingersoll. The woman simply known as The Eye, rules the home with an iron fist. Always short staffed, residents going hungry and verbally abused by the woman who also owns Tranquil Banks. Thankfully being relegated to the night shift has it's benefits, The Eye's absence being one of them.

Riding Warpaint has always been an escape, Amber's horse who brings a sense of freedom to her small world. Allowing her to visit next door neighbour, elderly resident Mrs Maitland. Although in her eighties, the widow lives alone, bakes and tends to her garden. She lives a life of solitude, with both her grown children having moved to the city, and rarely seen to return back to the family home. But when Mrs Maitland has a nasty fall, she's in need of care. Her family won't allow her to interrupt their own lives, so she's placed into care at Tranquil Banks.

With the stress of navigating work, home and fighting for the rights of Mrs Maitland, Amber stumbles across a campsite down by the river. A boy, not much older than she. He refuses to answer questions, and only provides cryptic clues of his own. But who is he? Well spoken and impeccably dressed, there is something strange about him that Amber can't quite put her finger on. So when he shows up at Tranquil Banks, naturally chaos ensues.

His name is Jack Chant and he can't remember why he's there, only that he feels drawn to Tranquil Banks. The last thing he remembers is fleeing the oppression at home to join the circus. Amber finds herself inexplicably drawn to Jack, and the sense of fun and mystery he brings to the sleepy town of Stockford. But will Amber allow the boy with nothing to offer but a smile, a chance to make a difference in her world and change her life in the process?

Kelly's Thoughts

The One and Only Jack Chant was wondrous. It follows the story of Amber, who is trying to find her place in the world. Like so many teenagers, Amber feels the pressure of the expectations to not only help out at home, but be a responsible adult. Nothing exciting ever seems to happen, and Amber feels as though the world has left her behind. Her best friend has left for university and since found a new life, one that doesn't include Amber. So when the mysterious Jack Chant comes to town, Amber is naturally attracted to the thrill of a mystery.

Even though the title may elude to the book being all about Jack, it isn't. It's strangely magical, allowing the reader to interpret the storyline to suit the individual. Where I see Jack as a metaphor, another reader may see him as a romantic protagonist who brings life to the story. But Jack is both. It wasn't Jack's character that drew me in, it was the idea of Jack himself. Magical, a conscious voice who brings sense of fun, in what could be described as a unsatisfying existence for both Amber and the residents of Tranquil Banks. Jack is a beacon of hope, he's that little voice in your thoughts that encourages you not to sit back, but to take a stand, create your own adventure and help those less fortunate than yourself.

I absolutely adored it.


  1. This sounds like a very unique and interesting read. It doesn't sound like anything I'd pick up but I'm glad you enjoyed it =) The elderly getting neglected and verbally abused at Tranquil Banks would really bother me because this happens all too frequently in real life.

    1. It certainly was confronting in places, but doesn't go into great detail. It isn't the main focal point of the story, but adds another aspect to the realism of everyday life.

  2. Why do you always do this to me, Kelly? I just had a huge haul last week! Now I have to add more books to my pile, and I usually buy what you liked! Ugh. I should refrain reading your reviews. It hurts my book budget. 0_o

    1. Oh Dre, I feel your pain. With so many awesome books being released, it can end up being so expensive, and it's only March still. I really loved The One and Only Jack Chant, it was so uniquely magical.

  3. This sounds wonderful! I think a lot of teens will relate to Amber not knowing what she wants to do with her life (I still wonder myself!)

    1. I'm with you there. Especially when you haven't even finished up at high school, you were expected to choose what you wanted to do for the rest of your life. I think Amber will resonate with most teens, with parents expecting them to grow up far too early. Amazingly, she's so well adjusted, I loved her character.

  4. Sounds like an interesting, thoughtful review Kelly! I loved your review describing how the character of Jack was approached in the novel. Very thoughtful!

    1. Thanks Jeann. I think Jack Chant will translate in a completely different light for some, depending on the reader. He seemed beyond the simple character he portrayed, he wasn't just a cause, he was an entire movement.

      That was so profound it hurt my head.
      Remember to check back for the Jack Chant Aussie only giveaway soon.

  5. This one sounds great! I love the sound of how complex Jack is - metaphorically and as a character. And Amber sounds like an awesome character - it's always fun to have characters that are easy to relate to!

    Thanks for sharing, and, as always, brilliant review! :D

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf


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