Leap Day
  • Leap Day
  • Leap Day

Leap Day

4.0 279
by Wendy Mass

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This fascinating, surprising new novel is full of everyday imaginations and truths in the life and future of every teenage girl, as it tells the story of soon-to-be-16 Josie Taylor, who was born on Leap Day.See more details below


This fascinating, surprising new novel is full of everyday imaginations and truths in the life and future of every teenage girl, as it tells the story of soon-to-be-16 Josie Taylor, who was born on Leap Day.

Editorial Reviews

Josie's 16th birthday is also her fourth birthday: she is a "leaper," born on February 29th, and she revels in the quadrennial recurrence of her natal day. This offering's action occurs entirely on Leap Day, advancing in timed increments over the course of the day, each chapter divided into two narratives. Leading off each chapter is Josie's breezily ingenuous first-person account, which reflects the monumental narcissism of adolescents. The "B" side of each chapter relates events as they run concurrent with Josie's own account, but in a roving third-person narration that illuminates the characters around Josie. Both very little and a great deal happen in this recounting: Josie turns 16 and tries out for a play-and her father finds his life's calling, and a classmate gives birth. It's a fairly risky construction: Josie is agreeable enough, but aside from her birthday, she's not particularly interesting; it's the other stories that swirl around Josie's that give both the story, and ultimately even Josie herself as she becomes aware of them, real depth. (Fiction. 12+)
It's February 29th, and Josie Taylor is turning 16 but having her "fourth" birthday. Her family goes all out to celebrate her special leap year day, and Josie is looking forward to taking her driver's exam, nabbing the part of Juliet in the afternoon's play auditions, and heading out to the lake for the super-secret sweet 16 initiation ritual. Josie tells the story of her birthday in a series of first-person chapters, from the time she gets up in the morning to 11:59 that night. However, she's not the only one who gets to speak. Mass adds quite a twist to an otherwise straightforward tale by pairing each of Josie's chapters with another told from the various perspectives of all of the people around her. Readers get to see beyond Josie's point of view and find out the motivations and inner thoughts of the people she interacts with throughout her birthday. Adolescents are usually much more complex people beneath the masks they wear in public, and Mass's teenaged ensemble deals with sadness, insecurity, jealousy, and even the trauma of unplanned parenthood. What could be a lighthearted romp through a 16th birthday turns out to be a rite of passage, not only for Josie, but for many of her friends as well as they reflect on their lives as of February 29th, and their futures. KLIATT Codes: JS-Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2004, Little, Brown, 212p., Ages 12 to 18.
— Michele Winship
Josie Taylor's fourth birthday promises to be a special one-especially if she receives a set of keys to the car. Born on February 29, Leap Day, Josie is actually sixteen years old. She and her family and friends, however, reserve special celebrations for those years that contain a Leap Day. So, now on her official fourth birthday, Josie wonders what surprises the day will hold. Keys to the family car if she passes her driver's test, the starring role in the high school's production of Romeo and Juliet, and the annual scavenger hunt are among the possibilities that this day holds. What makes this novel a bit of a departure from a traditional coming-of-age story is not the Leap Day setting, although that certainly adds to some of the book's humorous twists. This story chronicles only one day in the life of Josie Taylor. The happenings of that day, from dawn until well after dusk, are related by Josie in the first chapter. Alternating chapters then reveal the events from the perspectives of other characters including Josie's parents, teachers, friends, and other family members. This back-and-forth viewpoint change adds a layer of texture to the tale. There are also plenty of secrets to be revealed during the course of the story. How these events affect not just Josie but also all of her fellow characters makes for a fascinating read. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, Little Brown, 212p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Teri S. Lesesne
Children's Literature
The life of a teenager is always bizarre, but for Josie Taylor, celebrating her "fourth" birthday is one wild event. Since Josie is a leaper (someone born on February 29), she only gets to celebrate her true birthday once every four years. This year she turns sixteen, and everyone around her plans to make it a unique day. The reader follows Josie as she tries out for the school play, takes her driver's test, and has her important sweet-sixteen initiation at the lake. This, however, is only half of the story. In this unusual novel, the reader gets to leap into the thoughts of everyone Josie meets. Mass arranges the chapters so that Josie's story is first in the chapter, labeled 1A. This is followed by chapter 2A in which appears the story of everyone with whom Josie has interacted in the first chapter. The entire book rotates in this fashion (A, B, A, B), many times not only explaining how the character is feeling at that moment but sometimes leaping into their future, as in: "When Mitch is nineteen and home from college for the summer, he will find himself at the same pool party as Josie. By that time, he'll have a girlfriend named Marcy who has heard all about his childhood crush." This book has little excitement, and its main character experiences no growth. By the end of the novel, the reader feels that everything could have taken place in fewer chapters. Mass doesn't fully utilize the narrator's full omniscience; since we only meet each character briefly, we form no emotional connection with any of them. In the end, the reader does not care about what has happened to the characters. Students would not have to read the entire novel to understand this author's technique with point ofview. For this reason, it could be used in a classroom as a creative writing assignment in which students write from different points of view. 2004, Little Brown and Company, Ages 13 up.
—Tiffany Burgess <%ISBN%>031600054X
School Library Journal
Gr 7-9-Today is Josie's 16th birthday, but because it is February 29th, it's really only her 4th "official" birthday. She wears her "The Few, The Proud, The Leapers" T-shirt and checks in with many of her e-mail leapmates from around the country. Her family and friends make a big deal of her "last" teenage birthday. In the meantime, Josie has a lot on her mind, including the tryouts for Romeo and Juliet, her driver's test, and, of course, hunky Grant Brawner. Josie's first-person narration, laced with touches of humor, is reminiscent of Alice's in Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's series (Atheneum), but Mass finds a special depth by augmenting Josie's chapters with third-person accounts of many of the same scenes in which readers learn what the teen's friends, family, and teachers are thinking and doing. Some of them are as superficial as Josie perceives, but most have complex stories and secrets far beyond what she could ever imagine. Mass also uses these chapters to comment on the characters' futures, such as the abusive and alcoholic father of a friend who readers are told will one day cause an accident, paralyze a motorcyclist, and never drink again. The style is unusual and interesting, but a little cluttered and slows down the plot. However, Josie remains spunky and good-hearted throughout the eventful day, and most of the other characters' situations are somewhat resolved. Despite the uneven tone, this is a good read.-Paula J. LaRue, Van Wert City Schools, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.59(d)
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

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