Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Jumping Off Swings

Jumping Off Swings  by Jo Knowles

Every time Ellie hooks up with a new guy, she's sure that there will be more to the encounter than sex, and that she will finally feel loved.  But the "one-time thing" with eager virgin Josh gets much more complicated when Ellie gets pregnant. 

The events of nine months after that fateful night in Josh's van are told by four narrators:  Ellie and Josh, plus their friends Corinne and Caleb, who live complicated lives of their own.  Their voices are mostly realistic, although the situations often seems straight out of an "afterschool special." 

With repetitive writing (I got tired of reading the word "empty") and mostly-predictable characters, this book is no classic, but readers looking for an emotional problem-novel with minimal cussing will find Jumping Off Swings engaging enough.

The "condom slipping off" situation that causes the pregnancy seems vaguely plausible.Sexual situations are described in flashback sentences, without graphic details, and childbirth is treated with similar distance: Ellie repeats the phrase "it hurts so much" frequently until she is sedated for the caesarean-section birth. Adult characters are flawed, but the reader understands that most of the parents really do love their teen offspring, even if they lack the ability to express their love openly.

On-page sexual situations, mild cussing, underage drinking and partying.  Readers 14 and up.

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