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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

Ellie remembers how the boys kissed her. Touched her. How they begged for more. And when she gave it to them, she felt 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 confidantes, 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.


This book was . . . disappointing. I'll admit, I sort of picked it up at the library on a whim, simply because I needed something to read, but I still thought it would be good. Or moving. Or . . . something. But, honestly, it wasn't.

Most of the characters fell flat, and felt depressingly undernourished and uncared for. There were way too many plot jumps: I mean, let's face it, if you're reading a book about a teenage pregnancy, you actually want to find out what the teenager goes through during the pregnancy. What you don't want to see is a month-long plot jump every two chapters, virtually no details on her troubles and what she has to go through during the nine long months, and no excitement whatsoever.

The least you could expect would be a book about a teenage pregnancy to actually deal with a teenage pregnancy. I'll be honest--I did whiz through this book in one night, but that definitely doesn't mean that it was good. It just means that it was a pathetically easy and unmoving read for a book that supposedly deals with such a heavy and difficult issue.

The writing, for the most part, fell pretty flat, too. Alternating chapter point-of-views are great . . . for a suspenseful, well-paced book. Or for Michael Grant. But, really, that's just about all. If I want to read this book, I want to find out about how Ellie is dealing with it, and maybe John. But really? Everyone else, it's just slightly annoying. The POV changes too fast for you to even build a sort of connection with what each character is dealing with or talking about. Plus, with such little character development, the quick switches are confusing in the beginning; it's hard to remember who's eyes you're seeing from.

I feel absolutely no connection to the characters, other than slight pity for Ellie and John because of their situation, and brief admiration for Liz, Caleb's mom. And, really, that's all. Maybe I'm being harsh, but I seriously wouldn't recommend this book to anyone. It wasn't bad, exactly . . . It just wasn't good. And if you're not a super fast reader, it's definitely not worth your time. If you're really bored, and you're really boring, and you like boring YA books . . . sure, go with this one. If you fall under that criteria, I'm sure you'll love it. On the plus side . . . the cover's kind of cute.


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