Monday, November 29, 2010

Review: Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Jumpstart the World
Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Series: N/A
Pages: 192
Genre: Lgbt
Release Date: October 12, 2010
How Received: Author

SummaryElle is a loner. She doesn’t need people. Which is a good thing, because she’s on her own: she had to move into her own apartment so her mother’s boyfriend won’t have to deal with her.

Then she meets Frank, the guy who lives next door. He’s older and has a girlfriend, but Elle can’t stop thinking about him. Frank isn’t like anyone Elle has ever met. He listens to her. He’s gentle. And Elle is falling for him, hard.

But Frank is different in a way that Elle was never prepared for: he’s transgender. And when Elle learns the truth, her world is turned upside down. Now she’ll have to search inside herself to find not only the true meaning of friendship but her own role in jumpstarting the world.

My Thoughts:
There is so much I want to say about this novel, but I don’t want to make this too long, so I’ll try to keep it as brief as I can.

Jumpstart the World is about acceptance and learning to adapt and to trust. A huge chunk of the book revolves around the way Elle reacts to and deals with finding out her neighbor, and crush, Frank is a transgender. She does a lot of thinking and reevaluating her beliefs, because that revelation shocks her so much and she has no idea how to handle it. The narrative is honest – as honest as a sixteen year old can get – and full of interesting and different perspectives on everyday issues.

Elle really surprised me. I started out disliking her (because she sounded too similar to me, but more harsh), but over time, I felt myself loving her for her personality. She starts out as a loner – as someone who pretends that being alone is okay and that she needs no one. In the end, she blossoms into this independent young woman who knows how to count on others and to let people in and wants to be directly involved in activism. Her transformation is visible – you can see she makes an effort to make friends and struggles with transforming the ideals she’s held from the beginning. She adapts to her situations as needed. She doesn’t always make the best decisions, but that’s what’s great about her: she’s sixteen and totally flawed.

One very prevalent aspect of this book I noticed was the similarity between Elle and her cat, Toto. It was almost as if Elle was the embodiment of Toto’s personality. Toto wasn’t beautiful, no one wanted him, and he shut everyone out/hid all the time. Elle could relate to this – she stated that she did not need people. Yet both Elle and Toto made amazing transformations – they just needed someone to love (Frank with Elle; Elle with Toto) them for them to flourish, thrive, and break out of their shells.

There was no romance in the book, per se, but Elle was always dealing with her feelings of love with Frank. Frank, of course, never returned those particular feelings – he had a girlfriend – but they shared a different kind of love, one that was comfortably settled between friendship and romance. And it worked that way – you could tell they both loved each other very much, just not in the way Elle would have liked, and it was very tender reading about their more-than-friends-but-not-lovers exchanges.

Cover Musings: Red is always a great color to attract someone’s attention. On a cover that only includes gray, black, and white, I give them props for being able to grab my attention. Now, people who haven’t read this won’t really understand why there’s a cat on the cover (or maybe you will? I’m not a cat owner; I wouldn’t know how cats behave!). But having read this and knowing it’s Toto’s personality to hide/shy away from others, this cover makes absolute sense and I’m glad the image of a cat was chosen instead of a model.

Memorable Quotes:
“I’m taking that cat. I want the black one. You can’t talk me out of it, so don’t even try.” I was already starting to understand him. To feel for him. Or maybe even to feel with him. He was scared. He was not cuddly. He was not beautiful. If I didn’t take him, he was as good as dead. He was about to be given the death penalty for not being beautiful. Someone had to come along and love him just the way he was. I was that someone. (pg. 3)
 It’s not like I didn’t appreciate his help. And it’s not like I was judging him for his life choices. It’s more like... If I could just have more time to swallow things. Or maybe have things hit me in smaller pieces. I felt like life was always pushing too much down my throat too fast.
It was giving me serious indigestion. (pg. 96)
 We would never treat anybody like shit if we knew they could be about to die. I mean, anyone we care about even a little. If we knew they could die, we would just freaking get over all the petty crap, because losing someone you love is more important than any of that. But, now, here’s the part that actually took up some of the hour: Anybody could be about to die. Every single person we care about is going to die. And we have no idea when.
So how can we afford to treat anybody like shit? Well, that’s the easy part. We can’t. But here’s the harder part: Since we all know for a fact that we’re all going to die, why don’t we all treat each other like we could lose each other at any minute? (pg. 124-125)
 I was hugging my cat.
We sat that way for a long time. Maybe an hour. It meant more to me than if I’d gotten a friendly cat. If a friendly cat had done this with me, that wouldn’t have been such a big thing. But this was Toto.
“Poor Toto,” I said. “See? That’s not so hard. You just have to take a deep breath and let somebody love you.” (pg. 181)
Overall Thoughts/Final Comments: Jumpstart the World is a novel that surprised me, really. I didn’t think I’d like it as much as I did – I had initial reservations because Elle seemed so close-minded, whereas I’m more open-minded, so I wasn’t sure how that would work well. It did, though. The pacing was great and the narrative was honest; I genuinely enjoyed experiencing Elle struggle with her ideals. The issues involved with sexuality were very interesting, but I thought they could be developed a bit more. I loved the similarities between Elle and her cat, Toto, and the idea that all you need is someone to love you for who you are.

Rating: 4/5

**This book was provided for review by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Catherine! :)


LunaMoth said...

great review, i am like ellie, i rather be alone =)but i also like that you put in there about her cat, because we cant stay alone forever.

Kristina Barnes♥ said...

I'm like Elle, also. While I can enjoy and appreciate another's company, I feel most comfortable alone. Pets are great company. Elle's cat, unfortunately, was missing half of the time because he had been abused so he didn't trust Elle. They were able to find each other, though, and that's the point that matters. :)

Melissa (i swim for oceans) said...

I saw this a while back, and it really intrigued me, but I wanted to wait to see a review. I'm so glad to see such a good, thoughtful review of it! I'm definitely adding this to my list now because it sounds really poignant. Thanks, Kristina! :)

Jenny said...

Haha, I was wondering about that cat on the cover! This book isn't something I would normally pick up, but I may look into it. Thanks for the review.

Unknown said...

This review is worded very well, the flow was good.

I too was wondering about the cat bc I did not see something about it in the title. Which can be intriguing...

I'd like to get involved in a new project that is starting on the blog-o-sphere, Save a Tree, Read An E-Book. I have a post up about it :)

Mad Scientist

Jenny said...

Wow, really great review Kristina! I haven't heard much about this one at all, but I loved your thoughts on Elle, I love when a character makes us change our minds about them before the book is done:)

Danna (Bananas For Books) said...

Great review! This book sounds really good. I find it interesting reading about transgenders and I like cats so this looks a good book for me:)

Midnyte Reader said...

This was a very insightful review. Elle sounds like a great character. I'd like to read this book.

Julie said...

I won this book on a different blog (it's not here yet), but reading your review makes me want to read it even more! I love your first quote, btw. Thanks for the review!

MH Tofan said...

Nice post, Thanks for your very useful Information, I will bookmark for next reference

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