Monday, December 09, 2013

Jumping Off Swings--Jo Knowles


Title: Jumping Off Swings
Author: Jo Knowles
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2009.
Pages: 176 p.
Source: Library ebook
Compensation: None

I read this book in one sitting--literally, I was in the car on the way to Thanksgiving. It's a super quick read that's perfect for those moments when you want to read something and just not stop.

Ellie is a vulnerable, naive girl who thinks that if a boy desires her he loves her and all she has to do is let him touch her to get that love. She is desperate for human touch and contact. Her mom is perfect on the outside, but cold and distant. Ellie tries to find love anywhere she can get it, but unfortunately for her, she and the boys she is with have two different meanings for the word "love."

The story opens with a quick encounter between Ellie and Josh. It's told from four different points of view: Ellie, Josh, Caleb, and Corinne. Caleb is Josh's best friend who has had a crush on Ellie since they were kids and Corinne is Ellie's best friend who has always supported her even when classmates call her a slut. Ellie and Josh's one time "thing" leads to a serious situation when she discovers she's late. The story follows the four different reactions to Ellie's pregnancy and how it impacts all their lives.

Although this is a quick read, because we have all four perspectives, we clearly see Ellie's motivation, we see why Josh is so screwed up and willing to have sex with a random girl just to lose his virginity, we see how loyal and supportive Caleb is, and how Corinne goes from being the sidekick to falling for Caleb. Knowles does a good job of showing all the options Ellie has without explicitly saying what those options are. Caleb lives with his Mom because his Mom decided she wanted to have a baby and asked her friend to be the father, thinking that he would stick around even if he didn't really love her but he left to start his own family; Josh's parents got married young when they discovered they were pregnant with Josh, and even though they are still married they barely see or talk each other; Corinne's older sister had an abortion and is still in a loving relationship with her boyfriend. The plot moves quickly, the characters are three-dimensional, and the writing is well done.

I was impressed with Jo Knowles' first YA book, Lessons From a Dead Girl, and enjoyed this one just as much.

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