Jumpstart the World

Jumpstart the World

5.0 4
by Catherine Ryan Hyde

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Elle is a loner. She doesn't need people. Which is a good thing, because now she has to move out of her apartment so her mother's boyfriend won't have to deal with her.

Then she meets Frank, the guy who lives next door to her new place. Being with him is impossible: he's a grown-up and has a girlfriend.  Still, Elle can't stop thinking about him. 

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Elle is a loner. She doesn't need people. Which is a good thing, because now she has to move out of her apartment so her mother's boyfriend won't have to deal with her.

Then she meets Frank, the guy who lives next door to her new place. Being with him is impossible: he's a grown-up and has a girlfriend.  Still, Elle can't stop thinking about him.  Frank isn't like anyone Elle has ever met. He listens to her. He's gentle. And Elle is falling for him, hard.

Then Elle discovers that Frank is different in a way that Elle was never prepared for: he's transgender. Elle's head and her heart explode; her world is turned upside down.  But when an accident nearly takes Frank's life, Elle must search inside herself to find not only the true meaning of friendship but her own role in jumpstarting the world.

Tender, honest, and compassionate, Jumpstart the World is a stunning story to make you laugh, cry, and honor the power of love.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Just before Elle's 16th birthday, her mother dumps her in her own New York City apartment (her stepfather " want a teenager around"). Alone, except for a one-eyed cat who mostly hides, she is grateful for neighbors Frank and Molly, whom she grows close to. Elle develops a crush on kind and wise Frank, but when she learns he is transgender, she wonders what this means about her own identity. Readers will be moved by Elle's thoughtful and honest narration, which genuinely reads like someone sorting through a complex situation--and her complicated emotions (when Frank offers help with her sick cat, she thinks, "It's not that I didn't appreciate his help. And it's not like I was judging him for his life choices. It's more like... If I could just have more time to swallow things"). While some plotting seems clichéd, such as Elle's decision to become a photographer so she can "remind the world to be what it knows it should be," even these familiar turns underscore the author's message about a universal need for love and acceptance. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)
VOYA - Teresa Copeland
Sixteen-year-old Elle's mother has chosen her boyfriend over her, and moved her across town into her own apartment, with only a cat for company. This means a new school, where her recently cut-off hair brings bullying and accusations of lesbianism. The school's group of queer kids adopts her, even though she declares loudly she is straight and regularly accidentally says offensive things. Elle befriends her next-door neighbors, Frank and Molly. Frank is nice and smart, and Elle develops a major crush. Her queer friends realize that Frank is transgendered which Elle at first denies. When it is confirmed, she freaks out. Frank lands in the hospital facing the prejudice many in the medical community have for transsexuals, and Elle has to get over her trauma to help her friend. Elle narrates her awkward journey from clueless-but-neutral, straight person to Frank's ally. Along the way she encounters the bullying gay teens face, the complex issues transsexual people must deal with, and she must confront her own issues with identity, her mother, and how she views the world. For a book loaded with issues—there is even treatment of mental illness—this is a plain good read. These characters are funny, complex, and engaging. No one feels like they are present just to introduce an issue. Elle's sarcastic inner monologue is fun. She blunders into her revelations about the struggles of queer people, but she deals, apologizes, and manages to repair the relationships. There are many teens today who need this book. Reviewer: Teresa Copeland
Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
Elle is on her own for the first time in her life. "And she's so young. Turned eighteen barely a minute ago," Elle's mother tells the young man who lives in the apartment next door, as she asks him to help look after Elle. But Elle is not eighteen; she is fifteen, and she is moving into own apartment because her mother has chosen her new boyfriend over her only daughter. And Frank, too, is not what he seems to be. He is genuinely wise, empathetic, gentle, and caring, yes; but he is not a young "man" pure and simple; he is a man in the process of female-to-male transgender transformation. Elle's discovery that the first male figure to whom she is attracted is ambiguous in his gender rocks her world and ultimately leads her to care for Frank in a new way, with an awakened sensitivity to the terrible vulnerabilities he faces in a prejudiced society. Elle's initial attraction to Frank does not seem deep or strong enough to trigger such a wrenching reaction to her discovery of his transitional gender identity: "This officially began the period in my life I tend to refer to as After." But Elle's first-person narration is quietly compelling, studded with powerful insights that should linger long after reading, and her desire to "jumpstart the world" to get it to be "what even the world admits it should be" will inspire thoughtful readers. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—When her mother chooses her boyfriend over her own daughter, Elle, 16, is moved into an apartment across Manhattan. She develops a friendship with Frank, who lives next door, and with Molly, Frank's girlfriend. As her feelings toward Frank turn into a crush, Elle becomes conflicted over how to deal with them. At the same time, she is befriended by "Us," a group of kids who are gay, lesbian, or just different in some way. When they meet Frank at a party and tell her they think he is a "trans man," Elle becomes angry and abruptly asks them to leave. Then she learns that Frank is a woman in the process of becoming a man, and she withdraws. However, when Frank is hit by a car and Elle nearly loses her best friend, she begins to understand the importance of acceptance of both others and herself. The value of friendship and the struggle to be comfortable in one's own skin are issues brought to light in this novel. As Elle learns to deal with who she is, she also learns to deal with those who aren't just like her. Willing to admit her mistakes and growing stronger throughout the book, Elle is a likable, well-developed character with whom teens will identify.—Gina Bowling, South Gibson County High School, Medina, TN

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)
HL490L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

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