Jumping Off Swings

Jumping Off Swings

4.0 127
by Jo Knowles
     
 

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One pregnancy. Four friends. It all adds up to a profound time of change in this poignant, sensitively written YA novel.

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

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Overview

One pregnancy. Four friends. It all adds up to a profound time of change in this poignant, sensitively written YA novel.

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Absorbing from first page to last, this sensitively written novel explores how a teenager’s crisis rocks her life as well as the lives of others. Ellie wants a boyfriend, but what she gets instead is a series of meaningless hookups, the fourth of which leaves her pregnant. Unable to go to her parents for comfort and guidance, she turns to her best friend, Corinne, and Liz, the compassionate mother of Ellie’s childhood friend, Caleb. While rumors about her condition spread, Ellie has no idea how profoundly her pregnancy and her decision about whether to have the baby affects the baby’s father, Josh, whom she has avoided ever since he abandoned her after their only sexual encounter. Meanwhile, Corinne and Caleb are drawn together by their shared concern for Ellie. Offering four equally sympathetic viewpoints, Knowles (Lessons from a Dead Girl) eloquently expresses the pain of lost innocence (“Their words made me feel beautiful. Irresistible. Even powerful for that one brief moment before it was over. But I was none of those things. I was nothing”) and the longing to feel loved. Ages 14–up. (Aug.)
VOYA - Deborah L. Dubois
Sixteen-year-old Ellie hooks up with guys hoping to feel the love that she does not get from her parents. She only feels it for a moment, and then they leave her. She thinks Josh may be different, but after they have sex, he goes back to the party and brags to his friends. Ellie's subsequent pregnancy changes her life as well as that of Josh and their best friends, Caleb and Corrine. Knowles explores the effects of Ellie's pregnancy from each character's point of view through alternately narrated chapters. The voices and reactions are honest: Josh feels shame for how he treated Ellie, but still does not talk to her. Caleb and Corrine try to support both of them, while feeling guilty for being happy with each other. Ellie is scared and feels worthless. Their peers in school treat Ellie as a slut, but Josh is hailed as a stud. Caleb's mother provides the emotional support that Ellie is missing from her parents. This powerful novel shares how four teens work through a crisis that ends in a loss of innocence for all of them. Through each one's voice, the reader sees how their family history has formed them and determined their reactions to the situation. The story tugs at the heart as the teens deal with the roller coaster of emotions that an unwanted pregnancy causes in this cautionary tale that does not preach too loudly. Reviewer: Deborah L. Dubois
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Ellie has sex with boys who make her feel wanted and beautiful and then never call again. Even seemingly decent Josh, a virgin, leaves right after their tryst and never speaks to her again. It turns out the condom "slipped off" (?) and she gets pregnant. The next nine months are narrated by four charaters—Ellie, Josh, and their best friends, Corinne and Caleb. Ellie's and Josh's families are filled with stock dysfunction—from Ellie's shrill, uptight mother and perfect-on-the-outside home to Josh's washed-up, hard-drinking father and hapless mother. The plot of this novel is tired, but Corinne and Caleb, at least, are mercifully convincing and thoughtful. Each, of course, comes from a stable family. Caleb's single mother is the novel's moral center. The blaring contrast between stable kids from loving families versus lost kids from dysfunctional families oversimplifies a complex subject. Knowles writes fluidly, and though Caleb's and Corinne's scenes shine, Ellie and Josh never engage enough to set Jumping Off Swings apart in the genre.—Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
A heartbreakingly honest, measured work of fiction about a teen's unintended pregnancy is narrated in four voices in this latest from Knowles (Lessons from a Dead Girl, 2007). Ellie, Josh and their respective best friends Corinne and Caleb have known each other since they were young kids playing together at the park. Caleb, in fact, has nursed a quiet crush on Ellie for years and has been troubled by her worsening reputation as she ping-pongs from one guy to the next in a futile attempt to feel loved. He is both angry and hurt when Josh suddenly pursues her at a party and then casts her aside literally the minute after they have sex. With so many protagonists in the mix, it is no small feat that each character is fully developed and multidimensional-there are no villains or heroes here, only kids groping their way through a desperate situation. While the story never completely succeeds in shedding its problem-novel tone, it is nonetheless finely executed-a moving tale with a realistically unresolved ending. (Fiction. 13 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763652968
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
10/25/2011
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
236,206
Product dimensions:
7.78(w) x 5.28(h) x 0.66(d)
Lexile:
HL570L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

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