"No one bites back as hard on their anger
None of my pain and woe can show through"
Peter Townsend, "Behind Blue Eyes"
"Which is more insane? To go through life:
B. As an adventurer.
"Qu'en es mas loco?
A. To think constantly about the past and/or future.
(Note: Past and future don't exist. They are only ideas.)
B. To be aware of and enjoy the here-and-now. (Note: The
here-and-now is the only thing that does exist."
Set largely in the breathtaking and perilous world of rock
climbing (one of the author's own personal passions) and employing
duel first-person narrators, Elisa Carbone has crafted a high-interest
teen adventure tale that probes such important issues as
labeling, identity, suicide, mental illness, and questions
about whether one should go through life fearful and resentful or
boldly focused on living in the present and to the fullest. That
the author succeeds in addressing these issues in a significant manner
amidst a wild, hormone-filled story of a cute teen guy (who has
just escaped from a psych ward) and a cute, determined, and
underachieving teen girl (who is escaping being exiled to boarding school)
is the reason that this is one of the absolute best pieces of
young adult literature I've so far encountered this year.
"There is total, uncomfortable silence. Then I blurt
out, 'You guys are going to follow all the rules laid down on you and you're
going to get into college and pay your bills and one day you're going to wake up
and wonder why you never just went for it -- why you never lived your
own life instead of the life somebody else wanted you to live, why you couldn't
just go on one absolutely incredible adventure when you were young and when
someone you said was your friend needed you to go.' I don't even
know what I'm saying, don't even know if I believe the words that are coming out
of my mouth, but I'm half crying and more than half angry, and then suddenly
there he is, standing calmly, no sunglasses, blue eyes looking right at
"Can I help it if they're the most amazing bunch of idiots
I've ever met? I mean, this drop-dead cute girl is actually begging for
someone to run away with her, and they've all got better things to do. Not
that she's a damsel in distress -- she's got a stance like a bulldog when she's
angry, which she is right now, and all I can do is wait to see if she either
says 'fine' or slugs me."
It is so entertaining how Critter -- who has acquired
some mind-blowing perceptual abilities as a byproduct of his
(prior-to-the-story) unsuccessful suicide attempt -- can seamlessly move back
and forth in one breath between sharing jaw-dropping insights about
life and expressing his oh-so-typical teenager
feelings for P.K.
"Critter is looking at me and I can see he is not
thinking I'm just some PMS-crazed girl (which, okay, maybe I do have PMS
right now) and he's not thinking how ugly I look with my nose runny and my eyes
swelled half shut. He's looking at me like...he accepts me. Just
like that, for who I am right now."
"Remember games and daisy chains and laughs
Got to keep the loonies on the path."
-- Pink Floyd, "Brain Damage"
Another question posed by the story is whether one can
manifest one's own reality. Critter often seems to be able to conjure up
what he desires. The author understates this aspect of the story,
preventing it from overtaking the flow of action and hormones, but it is very
And there is the profound question about who, underneath, we
"'Let's take you, P.K., for example, okay? You've got:
Five-eleven climber, trad leader, athlete-girl clothes, funky rad hair,
intriguing name, unsympathetic parents, supersmart, lousy grades, way cute,
don't-mess-with-me attitude, miss my brothers, middle-of-the-pack social
"She laughs. 'I guess that's sort of me in a
"'No!' I nearly shout it. 'That's not you at all.
That's the stuff hanging on your me suit.'
"'But who am I without all that stuff?' she asks,
"'Yes! That's it. That's exactly the point,'
I say. 'Who are you without all that stuff.'"
Between the action and the danger, the hotness factor, the
provocative issues, and the stellar writing throughout, JUMP is the
sort of YA novel one should easily be able to sell teens on
reading and a book that should absolutely be on the
table for discussion when they begin contemplating next January's Best
Books for Young Adults Top Ten choices.