Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles
Release Date: Aug. 2009
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Ellie loves the words the boys whisper in her ear. They tell her how beautiful she is and how much they want her. They make her feel loved, if just for a moment. And no matter how many times they leave her alone, she always thinks the next one will truly love her. However, Josh is not that guy. He's out to lose his virginity and knows Ellie is a sure thing. His guilt at leaving her alone in the backseat of his van is nothing compared to what he feels when he finds out Ellie is pregnant. With the support of their best friends, Caleb and Corinne, the two struggle with the consequences of their one-night stand. And no matter what the end results are, all four teens will realize that the innocent-like days of childhood must be left behind.
I have to admit that this book caught me off guard. Never before have I read a book with four different narrators where I felt a connection with each one. Knowles does a wonderful job at bringing her characters to life as they deal with a delicate situation. It was very easy to sympathize with each character, but I have to say I felt for Josh the most. He was kept at arm’s length the whole time with no say in anything that was happening. By the end, he resorted to following Ellie around school just to make sure she was okay. It was the only glimpse into a world he no longer had rights in. His perspective brought him into a different light. He wasn’t some dead-beat with no worries as he moved onto the next girl. In fact, I would say he was as haunted/torn-up about the pregnancy as Ellie was. This was a boy who would carry this around for the rest of his life. I truly appreciate the new perspective Knowles gave me into a situation I have seen way too many times. Jumping Off Swings may have been my first book by Knowles, but it certainly won’t be my last. I look forward to checking out Lessons From a Dead Girl and her future books.