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Literature / Losing Joe's Place

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Jason, Don and Ferguson are spending their first summer in the city, with Jason's brother Joe going out of town for the summer and letting them use his coveted downtown apartment. Joe ends up leaving early, before he can tell them everything that they need to know, leaving the boys scrambling to hold down jobs, appease the tight-fisted landlord, and deal with Joe's friend Rootbeer and the antics he keeps getting them into, all the while trying to keep from losing the apartment (as the title suggests, they don't succeednote ).


  • An Aesop:
    • The narrator happens to help a hot girl with her college homework. Specifically, about food costs. Then he does the math after she leaves, and finds that it's actually cheaper and healthier to cook one's food than to eat out all the time.
    • Figure It Out Yourself in real life doesn't work. It's often better to know about a situation ahead of time so that you can handle it. A lot of the problems with the apartment could have been avoided if Joe had given Jason a full rundown about Plotnick charging renters for any repairs, that Rootbeer will take the car for joy rides, and that their landlord can hear everything in their apartment. Jason even notes this.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Unappeasable landlord Plotnick's surname, speech patterns and mannerisms fit certain Jewish stereotypes, but his ethnic and religious background are never discussed.
  • Anti-Nepotism: Don gets the three jobs at his uncle's factory but when Ferguson invents a cost-cutting production method that inadvertently eliminates their jobs, Don's uncle doesn't hesitate to fire him along with Jason, saying nepotism means less than real genius.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Indeed, the kids lose Joe's apartment, because the landlord decided to make condominiums after reconciling with his rival. Despite that, Plotnick's new restaurant is shut down following an injunction from the D Lishus corporation. Rootbeer also receives offers to tour and show off his talents, and he asks Joe to be his manager. This means Joe doesn't need the apartment since he gets to travel. Jason is relieved he's off the hook, and prepares for the school year.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Joe yells at Jason that his Chocolate Memory idea inspired Plotnick to upgrade so he shouldn't have bothered. Jason silently seethes that the summer would have gone easier if Joe had bothered to check on them with phone calls or given them full instructions on managing his apartment.
  • Cranky Landlord: Plotnick the landlord is a haughty Jerkass who’s always insulting his tenants and making them pay for damage that’s his fault.
  • The Ghost: Hamish, Plotnick's Always Someone Better rival landlord and restauranteur, is frequently mentioned but never seen.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Among Rootbeer's many talents, he can sketch people accurately, play the piccolo with his nose, and blow bubblegum at large amounts.
    • Jason is surprised at himself when he realizes he’s a good cook.
    • Jessica may be failing Home Economics, but she’s an amazing waitress.
  • How We Got Here: The novel begins with Joe having lost his apartment, and blaming Jason and his friends as they try to explain what happened.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Plotnick is a Cranky Landlord who manipulates the tenants to do what he wants, and won't give them a free meal on credit when they promise to pay it while loudly shouting they're underage. Even though he calls Jason a "good boy" for taking care of the diner when his back is thrown out, and he's grateful when learning the Chocolate Memory restaurant has earned him even more revenue, he proceeds to close down the apartments to convert them into condominiums after going into a partnership with Hamish. Then, because he didn't think to make an original cake batter recipe, the D Lishus corporation files an injunction and gets the shop shut down.
  • Karmic Jackpot: Jason resents how Jessica uses him to do her homework and didn't even thank him. Also, she punched him in the face when he went to ask her how a project went. She eventually repays the favor, however, by being his Number Two at the Chocolate Memory restaurant and helping him manage it as a waitress. Even Jason is surprised that she’s capable of working hard. It turns out Jessica isn't just The Ditz but she kept asking Jason because she liked him. In the end, she says she chooses him over his best friends. Despite themselves, Don and Ferguson give Jason their blessing to date her. They start a Long-Distance Relationship.
  • Made of Iron: Rootbeer Racinette. The guy lets himself get whacked with a 2x4 for bets and shows no adverse signs, apart from asking for ice packs after.
  • Never My Fault: The final chapter has Joe blaming the trio for everything as Jason silently fumes about how Joe had been too stupid and selfish to wait around to give them detailed instructions or a phone call, either of which could have prevented a lot of what went wrong.
  • Oblivious to Love: Jason Cardone, doesn't notice Jessica's affections towards him until literally the very end. Justified since she was dating his two friends and was yanking their chains.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • The kids serve Plotnick's customers a type of chocolate cake mix made from a more successful chains recipe. No one can figure out what the recipe is, except Plotnick. Once this makes Plotnick a hit, the rightful owners of that recipe sue him for using it without permission as soon as someone figures it out.
    • Rootbeer is shown to take a punch or beatings for cash. Afterward, he asks the kids to get him ice or medicine.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Rootbeer Racinette shows up to crash at the apartment and borrow Jason's car whenever he likes, to the slight dismay of the kids (although to be fair, Joe, the actual owner of the place, is ok with this). He makes up for this by getting them emergency rent money when they need it and serving as the prime entertainment after Joe opens up the Chocolate Memory restaurant.
  • Too Clever by Half: Ferguson is a genius, and yet he fails to think things through. Then he responds with Never My Fault when Joe and Don call him out. He fails to consider that by automating bubble wand production, his roommates would lose their jobs, cutting significantly into their summer income. Though Ferguson takes it in stride when the boys toss his belongings out in a suitcase. To a lesser extent, he starts dating Jessica after Don was doing so; even though he understands her tastes better,
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The kids help Plotnick's restaurant become a success and he responds by still raising the rent to more than Joe can afford to pay to take advantage of how much new business is coming into the area.
  • Wrestler of Beasts: Rootbeer used to work as an alligator wrestler before he was fired for being too tough on the alligators. He responded by throwing his boss's car into a swamp.