April 25, 2010

Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

Summary:  Ellie falls in love and finds herself being used by guys. She feels loved by all the guys she hooks up with, but when they leave her, she feels empty inside. A one night stand leaves Ellie to make some tough decisions in her life, but it's not just her problem anymore.

Likes: Oddly enough, I think my favorite character was Josh. I remember reviewing My Life as a Rhombus and wondering if they could write a story about teen pregnancy and not make the guy a complete jackass or the ultimate evil. Josh is a jackass at times, but I felt really empathetic to his situation. I might have liked this novel a lot more if it was written entirely in his point of view. The other characters were cool too, even Ellie, who I had a hard time understanding. I liked how the novel switched between points of view between the four characters, but I wish we would have gotten more of Josh.

Dislikes: I really really wanted to like this novel. There was so much praise going around the blogosphere. The novel just didn't work for me. I couldn't understand how Caleb started liking Corinne when he's like Ellie for YEARS and I don't mean like 4 years, but since they were children. I thought that he was actually going to fight to be with Ellie, but he didn't and I was disappointed. I was also frustrated with Ellie. She seems so inactive to me. I mean, she doesn't get the abortion, but we never hear her personal reasons why she's decide to have the baby and ultimately make the decision she does at the end. Maybe it was mentioned, but I might have read so fast that I missed it. I was kind of frustrated with all the characters. They all seemed so passive to me. I would have liked to see someone fight for something and maybe they all did in a way, but I didn't get enough of a sense of that. I supposed I don't want to be beaten over the head with a moral, but I want the characters to take control over situations. I wanted Ellie to just find some inner strength. I felt at the end she was emotionally the same person as she started. The ending was terrible in my opinion. I understand the need for it, but I felt that it could have ended sooner and been a better story for it. I felt like a lot of things were missing from the novel. I feel like important scenes were cut from the novel and I didn't get the emotion impact that I was expecting to feel.

Overall: I thought the novel was okay. I liked the writing and the subject matter was pretty heavy but wasn't overbearing and preachy. I just wished it would have been between Josh and Ellie, Caleb and Corinne are completely unnecessary in my opinion. I'm not really sure where this novel was supposed to go, what lessons Ellie learned from the whole experience. I really get this feeling that she hasn't changed too much. I want to know about her emotional journey. All the important scenes about Ellie weren't told in Ellie's point of view and all the important scenes about Josh weren't told in Josh's point of view. I feel the story suffered with the extraneous peanut gallery of Caleb and Corinne. I think those two deserved a companion novel, but they seemed to take the spotlight most of the time and at the end I was left wondering who exactly was this novel about and most of all, what was the point of the whole thing.

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