Review: Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

51C-79dyymLJo Knowles is one of my favorite writers, one of those authors whose books are must-reads for me. So it’s a bit surprising that I’ve just recently gotten around to reading this older story. Such is the life of someone with a TBR list that’s longer than my lifespan is likely to be. But still, better late than never.

No action is without consequences, a lesson that Ellie learns the hard way when she becomes pregnant after “hooking up” at a party. It’s not the first time, but it’s the last time for a very long while. But that one night has repercussions for not just Ellie. Everyone in her inner circle is affected. Her best friend, Corinne, tries to help Ellie through what is easily the most difficult time in her young life. Her friend Caleb finds himself in a tough spot as Ellie’s friend but also a close friend of Josh, the baby’s father. And even Josh himself, an unlikeable character at first who gradually redeems himself.

This is an outstanding book. Because this is more than a story of an unintended teen pregnancy. It’s a story of dysfunctional families, ones that seem good on the surface but really aren’t. It’s a story of teenagers trying to fit in and find themselves. And it’s a story of young people trying to fill an inner void any way they can. Each and every character evokes emotion from the reader. Such is the brilliance of an author such as Jo Knowles. She makes us care about them all.

So this is a story that’s clearly meant for young adults. The question becomes, how young is too young? On the one hand, it’s pretty clear what’s going on in the back of the van at the beginning of the story. And there’s a good bit of drinking along with the fairly casual sex. But I believe these are very real issues facing today’s older teens. And for that reason, along with the fact that the author deals with it in a responsible way, I do feel that this would be an appropriate read for older teenagers. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to read the sequel…


Buy It Now: Jumping Off Swings

Review: Etched on Me by Jenn Crowell

18143763Sixteen year old Lesley has had a tough upbringing, to put it mildly. After suffering years of sexual abuse at the hands of her father, she finally found the courage to escape after pleading with her mom for help, to no avail. She’s able to scrap by on her own for a bit, but with the help of a carefully constructed network of concerned adults she is able to eventually make something of herself.

The path to her success is not an even one, however. Dabbling in drugs and alcohol, cutting herself, a suicide attempt, time spent in mental health facilities…these are all obstacles she’s had to overcome. Things are looking bright for Lesley, however, even when she finds herself in the unexpected position of becoming a single mother. She’s confident that she’ll be able to handle it, with the help of the new family she has around her. But her luck takes a turn for the worse when she finds her ability to be a good mother being questioned by those in charge. The battle to retain custody of her unborn child will be her hardest ever.

This one’s a tough read, so tread lightly if you’re adding it to your list. But by no means should you avoid it, because the message within the author’s finely crafted words is just that powerful. She writes with such a wonderful expertise balanced with an attuned sense of storytelling. Add this one to your list!


Buy It Now:Etched on Me: A Novel