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review: “jumping off swings” December 21, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles.
Candlewick // Hardcover // 240 pages.
Reviewed from library copy.

Ellie needs to have sex to feel validated. The only problem is she keeps picking boys who don’t remember to call the next day. And when she chooses Josh, she doesn’t expect the condom to break and she certainly doesn’t expect to get pregnant. Told in four alternating perspectives (Ellie, Josh, and their two best friends — Corinne and Caleb), Ellie’s decision and the aftermath of her decision are revealed.

My favorite part about this book was the different perspectives on all the characters — both the narrating characters and the supporting characters. Often, I find myself bothered by characters who react the same way to a situation — in all media, not just books. You know what I’m talking about — the Lifetime movie where the pregnant girl becomes an outcast and everyone ignores her. This isn’t the case in “Jumping Off Swings.”

Yes, some parents react angrily; some parents instead offer help. Some classmates create trouble, rejecting Ellie; some stand by her and create a support system.

This is what drew me into the book. Just the wide variety of reactions to Ellie’s pregnancy and to her decision — that is what real life is like, that is what contemporary realistic fiction should be like. This multi-layered book fits what would happen in the real world in a way that felt so refreshing to me, truly like a breath of fresh air.

I would not be surprised to not only see this book honored with some awards, but to also see it on YA shelves for years to come. Highly recommended for older YA readers.

SWAN catalog
Jo Knowles




1. Sarah - December 23, 2009

This was one of my favorite recent reads. I thought the intertwining point of views on this topic was so well done. She dealt with this really heavy topic in a way that’s approachable for a wide YA audience I thought.

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