First! thanks Nicole at Candlewick Press for sending me this book! why I chose this one I don’t know. It just called out to me. Lately I’ve been in the mood of trying different type of books. So far so good. Haven’t had one that I have regretted asking for.
Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles covers a teenage pregnancy through the eyes of four characters: Ellie the would be mother, Corinne her best friend, Caleb the nice guy who’s had a crush on Ellie, and Josh, the would be father. Throughout the story you go through Ellie’s pregnancy and how each of these characters feel as they try to help her through her ordeal.
I found it a very sombre story. Ellie just wants to feel and be loved. Although she’s going about it the wrong way, as you read more into her character, you see her family isn’t your typical loving one. As you figure out how her family really is, you understand and start to sympathize with her as the story progresses. I have to admit I didn’t really have much patience for Ellie. I just felt like shaking my head and slapping her across the face and telling her to wake up, grow up and do the responsible thing whatever it is. On the other hand, she’s extremely scared. This sort of thing is very life changing, so her behaviour is understandable.
The plot flows well throughout this story, each chapter is told in each of the character’s perspective so you have a glimpse of how they live and they problems and issues they face even though it’s all centralized with Ellie. I can’t help but think this is like one of those made for TV after school specials for teens. It sure seems that way when I was reading this book. However, it does the job of engrossing me and kept me turning the pages to read on. Most of the time you just feel so sad for Ellie and what she’s going through (once your initial anger phase goes away). I changed my mind about her more than halfway through the book and realized that she indeed is a very brave person to go through her decisions regarding her baby.
The only thing that irks me is Josh. I don’t know how the rest of the guys feel when they’re having an unexpected surprise spring on them by a girlfriend. I suppose the pessimistic side of me expects them to just take a hike and leave. Although I know most guys probably aren’t that way, you just hear about the bad ones more. So I’m not sure if Josh as a character is realistic but that’s just me. You would think most guys would run away at the sound of “baby” and “yours” put together.
Other than that, I thought all characters had a sense of realism to them. They weren’t the cookie cutter ones you read in some of those teen books where everything is perfect. They each have their issues and problems too. It makes the characters almost “three dimensional” so to speak. The ending leaves with a sombre note too, but with a sense of optimism for some of the characters.
Overall a good sombre, serious read, but a satisfying one.
I give it a 7 out of 10.