Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles (August 11th 2009—Candlewick)
Grade: 3 stars out of 5
Summary: “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.”
Review: Jumping Off Swings is one of the many teen novels that deal with teen pregnancies. We follow the 4 teens how they dealt with Ellie’s pregnancy.
Corinne and Ellie are best friends and that is quite clear through their actions. Corinne aids Ellie seek help, comfort, and support through the many months. I love these types of relationships because it brings me happiness to see that. A friend is going through this and you’re not one to abandon her mid-way.
Ellie is labeled a slut because she craves the touch. But it’s not just black and white; there are many shades of grey. Ellie has family problems that might have forced her to trust every guy. She’s always heartbroken when the boys just use her and toss her aside once the deed is done—ashamed even. Ellie has a complex mind that I wished we could have seen more of.
Caleb had a crush on Ellie for the longest time so when Josh talks about Ellie like nothing, he will defend her. Caleb is the one guy that Ellie can lean her shoulder on—just as a friend though. He’s the perfect counterpart to Corinne’s spunky attitude.
Josh has family problems of his own. His mother got pregnant very early by his father forcing them to wed. So he’s terrified that the same thing is happening to him. We delve into the mind of the baby’s father, one that is reluctant to be a father but understands his responsibility. He has his guilt, his determined attitude to make peace with Ellie—even if it isn’t when she can see him. He tries to be a good father but sometimes being a teen father is hard—as we come to read through his chapters.
Together these 4 teens come together for the sake of one unborn baby. We follow them through the 9 months, the birth, and the aftershock. Each one with a distinct narration and characteristics. I would have liked the book to be longer. The chapters didn’t cover enough for me to dig deep in the characters. The emotions faltering from powerful and the sparkle between Caleb and Corinne were distractions from the main purpose of the novel.
Overall: If the book was a bit longer it would have been a bit better.