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Sam has the rules of slackerhood down: Don’t be late to class. Don’t ever look the teacher in the eye. Develop your blank stare. Since his mom left, he has become an expert in the art of slacking, especially since no one at his new school gets his intense passion for the music of the Pacific Northwest—Nirvana, Hole, Sleater-Kinney. Then his English teacher begins a slam poetry unit and Sam gets paired up with the daunting, scarred, clearly-a-gang-member Luis, who happens to sit next to him in every one of his ...
Sam has the rules of slackerhood down: Don’t be late to class. Don’t ever look the teacher in the eye. Develop your blank stare. Since his mom left, he has become an expert in the art of slacking, especially since no one at his new school gets his intense passion for the music of the Pacific Northwest—Nirvana, Hole, Sleater-Kinney. Then his English teacher begins a slam poetry unit and Sam gets paired up with the daunting, scarred, clearly-a-gang-member Luis, who happens to sit next to him in every one of his classes. Slacking is no longer an option—Luis will destroy him. Told in Sam’s raw voice and interspersed with vivid poems, Jumped In by Patrick Flores-Scott is a stunning debut novel about differences, friendship, loss, and the power of words.
“A poignant and powerful novel of friendship and courage.” —School Library Journal
"It is the transcending heartbreak of Sam and Luis' deepening friendship that beckons every reader to heed his or her own inner voice." —Booklist
nir·va·na n def: an ultimate experience of some pleasurable emotion such as harmony or joy
Nir·va·na n def: a legendary kick-ass rock-and-roll band from my hometown of Aberdeen, Washington
I’M THINKING ABOUT RUPE AND DAVE.
My buddies from Aberdeen, out on the Washington coast. It’s where I used to live before I was “temporarily” moved away. And it’s where Rupe and Dave and I used to dream of becoming the next Nirvana.
The next hard-rocking, ass-kicking, world-famous band from Aberdeen.
A movie rolls in my brain. I’m watching us fish for cutthroat trout from the muddy banks of the Wishkah River. I see Rupert smiling at me with his big ol’ buckteeth, his long, rust-red hair flowing in the wind as he baits his hook with a massive, wriggling night crawler. Dave zips back and forth along the bank, a blur of Coke-bottle glasses, dirty blond buzz cut and turbocharged ADHD, pointing and shouting, “Cast here! Cast here, guys!”
We’re just little seventh graders fishing and having a good time, but all we can do is argue about Nirvana.
We argue about what Nirvana would be like now if Kurt Cobain hadn’t decided to leave this world.
I argue that “Scoff” is a way better song than “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which is awesome, but there’s no way it rocks as hard as “Scoff” does.
And Rupe and Dave argue over who should play what when we start our own band.
We wipe the mud and worm and fish muck off our hands and rock-paper-scissors it for who’s gonna be Kurt and who’s gonna be bassist Krist Novoselic, the two original members of Aberdeen’s Nirvana before they added drummer Dave Grohl and became Seattle’s Nirvana.
We take our Nirvana Tour of Aberdeen and walk in the shadows of our idols, sneaking into Aberdeen High School, strutting the halls like we don’t give a shit, peeing in the weeds on the banks of the Wishkah, smoking stolen cigarettes beneath the pier at night.
Stalking their ghosts.
Because those guys had something we want.
And we’re not gonna stop until we find it.
We hang out at the abandoned old house where Kurt and Krist and a parade of drummers used to rehearse before their band had a name. Dave carves our initials into the peeling white shingles, and we stuff our faces with fat blackberries plucked from the tangle of vines taking over the yard. Sprawled out on the front porch, Rupe writes list after list of possible band names while I scrawl lyrics in my blue spiral notebook and imagine my voice belting those songs out over thumping drums and bass.
We dream of making Aberdeen rock again.
Making the country rock again.
Making the world rock again.
On summer nights, my mom stuffs us full of her incredible barbecue chicken and homemade mac and cheese and s’mores. Lying in the tall grass, under the ancient cedar tree, we press Play on the boom box and lose ourselves in “Scoff,” “Paper Cuts,” “Swap Meet.” We leave our troubles behind, shredding air guitars, pounding imaginary snare drums and tom-toms as we sing like rock stars and float way up to the clouds—then higher and higher, and far, far away, to a whole ’nother world of head-banging nirvana.
That was then.
Copyright © 2013 by Patrick Flores-Scott
Posted September 20, 2013
The tone set through dark, wet skies; the brain-rattling roar of non-stop jets over the school; and the Pacific Highway, with a typical mix of hotels, massage parlors, Chinese restaurants, tire shops, and a diversity of hookers that appealed to the Green River Killer, is spot-on for this tale. Behind the brightly lit parking lots and lackluster buildings are thousands of “affordable” apartments containing children caring for children. Every night, there are teenagers who aren’t where society would like them to be, and kids whose mothers are at work, in the streets, or gone altogether.
Abandoned by his mother, Sam Gregory lives with grandparents as well as inside “No Man’s Land” where he keeps the seats empty and his heart closed in every class – until THAT teacher fills the vacuum with the much-feared Luis Cardenas. Ms. Cassidy has brought these two troubled souls together through more than adjacent seats. Her poetry project is where they find parallel expression for their dreams and personal grief.
This is where the author, Patrick Flores-Scott, lays open the brain of the adolescent mind that, in one moment, obsesses over skewed thoughts and misperceptions, and in another, grasps the true meaning of life. The author reveals adolescent communication that can operate on a scale from dysfunctional to none – until the right person enters their lives.
When Sam’s new kindred spirit disappears, Sam fears that Luis has given in to the gang that seems to be his calling. On his journey for truth, Sam is unexpectedly “tenderized” and exposed to caring—a place he finds that he’d rather be, and by people he would have never known had it not been for Luis.
"Jumped In" is a tear-jerker and a must-read for teachers who need to understand their most vexing student, the loner, or the child who silently cries for help. This reader did not put the book down – not once. Though now retired, I would have bought this for my ninth-grade students and incarcerated adult GED students.
Posted August 27, 2013
*Actual rating 3.5 stars
I'm not a big poetry person, but this sounded really interesting so I decided to give it a try. I'm really glad I did. I actually loved getting to know Luis through his poems, and I loved seeing Sam open up a little and finally let people in. This book tackles many different issues. Stereotyping, friendship, family, and learning to find yourself. This was a book I was very unsure about and ended up really enjoying. It was a pleasant surprise.
Sam is the type of person who keeps to himself. Abandoned by his mom, and expecting her to return to bring him back to his old home, he never wanted to get close to people. Didn't want to form relationships with anyone if he was just leaving soon anyways. After it was apparent his mom wasn't coming back, he just didn't care to be friends with anyone. It's easier for him to just be by himself. He won't have to ever subject himself to that feeling of loss again. It isn't until Luis becomes an unexpected and unwelcome part of his life that he starts to see things differently. He finds an unlikely friendship with Luis. He discovers that his stereotyping may have been wrong, and that people aren't always who they seem on the outside.
I found the writing in this to be fabulous. At first I wasn't sure about hearing Sam tell us a bit about what is happening, then getting a poem written by Luis, but soon it really flowed and I was flying through the book. I wanted to know more about both of them, about where their story was going. I loved that this tackled the issue of stereotypes in such a cool way. I loved that everyone was so much more than meets the eye. Besides Luis and Sam, I loved all of the characters. I thought they were all well developed, especially their English teacher. Every character had a reason to be part of the story. There were no side characters just for the sake of moving the story along.
Upon finishing this book, I was surprised how much I felt. I started off not really feeling any sort of connection or emotions at all, and I'm not sure when they developed, but by the end I was aware of all the feels I had. It really caught me off guard, and I love that! This book was just so well rounded. It covers so many issues, it's so real, and it also gives a few little lessons on poetry that I found really cool. I think this is the type of book that all high school (or even middle school) kids should read. I am so glad that I decided to read something different from what I usually do. This was a great book.
*An advanced copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation.