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Review: Jumping off Swings (Knowles)

Title: Jumping off Swings
Author: Jo Knowles
Genre: YA, Romance
Pages: 230
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school's library
Summary (from the inside flap): Ellie has hooked up with more than a few boys. Each time, she is certain there will be more tot he encounter than just sex. while she is with them, she feels loved. For a while anyway. So when Josh, an eager virgin with a troubled home life, leads her from a party to the backseat of his van, Ellie follows. But their "one time thing" is far from perfect. Ellie gets pregnant. Josh reacts with shame and heartbreak, while their close friends, Caleb and Corinne, deal with their own complex swirl of emotions. No matter what Ellie chooses, all four teenagers will be forced to grow up a little faster as a result. Told alternately from each character's point of view, this deeply insightful novel explores the aftershocks of the biggest decision of one fragile girl's life--and the realities of leaving innocence behind.

Review: This book is so good in so many ways. So I am just going to list them

  • Cover--I don't usually talk about the cover and at first this one doesn't seem so special. But, once you've read the book you realize how significant the photograph is; it captures so much about the book: teenager, innocence, and the time the characters spend at the local park, which is such an important part of their lives
  • Characters--I like books that tell the story from different perspectives. It's so great when the author can find four different voices and not repeat the story, but keep it moving forward through their perspectives. I see Ellie in so many of the students at my school. She is looking for acceptance and love and, unfortunately, finds it by having sex with a bunch of guys. Corinne is her unwavering best friend who wishes she could get Ellie to change her ways and see how great she is without the attention from boys. Jason just wants to fit in and lets himself get sucked into being a "stud" and fitting in with the guys when they talk about girls in the locker room. But it's nice to see he has a nicer side as well as the book progresses. Caleb is the nice guy that you hope your daughter dates, which means he isn't really "one of the guys" since he doesn't talk smack about girls, he doesn't date, he is kind, etc
  • Plot--Every year there are students at my school who are pregnant. Every year there are girls who are talked about by the other students for their sexual behavior. And, every year I am saddened by the way I hear boys and girls demean girls. That double standard (slut versus stud) is still so prevalent! So that aspect of this book is very real and accurate.
  • Home life--Each of the characters' home lives also figures prominently in this book and this is done well. The parents are busy, some are fighting, some drink too much, some connect well. There is a nice balance and we see how the parents affect the teens in a realistic way


Mrs. DeRaps said...

I loved this book! The characters felt so real to me and the back and forth narration really worked to make me feel close to and sympathetic towards each of the characters. I also loved the cover!

I like that you brought up the slut vs stud stereotype. So true! And, I feel like this book addresses that issue to some extent.

Thanks for your review--I loved this read and am glad that you felt the same way.

Jenners said...

I love when a cover relates to the actual story ... it often doesn't happen.

And how sad that teenage pregnancy is such a commonplace thing. I just couldn't imagine dealing with that at that age. I could barely imagine dealing with it as a woman in my 30s!

Wonderful review.

Helen's Book Blog said...

Mrs DeRap--I also think the shared narrative helped me to understand everyone's view point and worked very effectively.

Jenners--When I hear that students are pregnant I always think back to how I was as a teenager and just can't imagine making a decision to keep, abort, or give up a child. I was 35 when I had my daughter and that turned out to be the right age for me!

Athira said...

I'm glad this book is a 4.5! I have it here, but have been looking for motivation to read it -- glad to now dust it!

Helen's Book Blog said...

Aths--This is one definitely one to read. I can't wait to see what you think of it