Read Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles Online


One pregnancy. Four friends. It all adds up to a profound time of change in this poignant, sensitively written YA novel.Ellie remembers how the boys kissed her. Touched her. How they begged for more. And when she gave it to them, she felt loved. For a while anyway. So when Josh, an eager virgin with a troubled home life, leads her from a party to the backseat of his van, EOne pregnancy. Four friends. It all adds up to a profound time of change in this poignant, sensitively written YA novel.Ellie remembers how the boys kissed her. Touched her. How they begged for more. And when she gave it to them, she felt loved. For a while anyway. So when Josh, an eager virgin with a troubled home life, leads her from a party to the backseat of his van, Ellie follows. But their "one-time thing" is far from perfect: Ellie gets pregnant. Josh reacts with shame and heartbreak, while their confidantes, Caleb and Corinne, deal with their own complex swirl of emotions. No matter what Ellie chooses, all four teenagers will be forced to grow up a little faster as a result. Told alternately from each character’s point of view, this deeply insightful novel explores the aftershocks of the biggest decision of one fragile girl’s life — and the realities of leaving innocence behind....

Title : Jumping Off Swings
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780763639495
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 230 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Jumping Off Swings Reviews

  • Chelsea
    2018-12-03 04:11

    As someone who, at 17, has read more books than most people twice my age, it is rare that I say a book is 'one of my favorites' because it is too hard to pick favorites. However, Jumping Off Swings is one of the best books I've ever read-a blunt, raw look at teenage pregnancy as well as alcoholism, abortion, loyalty and the deep rooted problems teenagers face in their lives.The novel is told from the perspectives of four characters: Ellie, an insecure girl who sleeps around in a misguided attempt to gain self esteem; Corinne, who despite being a thoroughly decent person is often overlooked by both boys and girls for being shy and reserved; Josh, a boy with a tough home life who is genuinely good at heart, but a little lost; and Caleb, a closed off boy struggling with his own identity. The four teens are thrown together when Josh gets Ellie pregnant. What follows is a very stark look at how many lives are affected by one action.What makes this novel an important book for teenagers to read is the fact that it is about much more than a pregnancy. It is about how one catalyst can drastically change a young person's life. Most teens will relate to at least one of the four vastly unique narrators. The novel brings to light the hard truth that mistakes can change us, for better or worse. It's about refusing to let a bad home life affect us (Josh). Staying true to our own values (Corinne). Accepting that we cannot control everything (Caleb). And not letting our pasts define us (Ellie). This novel is important. It speaks to teenagers in a way that is clear and open.

  • usagi ☆ミ
    2018-11-20 22:06

    This was a fairly quick read, as it was relatively short. However, this book was fairly dull. No surprises, no new additions to the "teen gets pregnant and ruins her life" genre. It was incredibly drab and cliche in the characterization of teenagers as irresponsible when it comes to sex. If anything, that's what turned me off the most. It even angered me. Just what we need - another book like this about "these darn kids today".I was quite disappointed, as the blurb had made it seem so much more than that. This could have been a more positive story with a more sex-positive and healthy attitude toward things. (crossposted from librarything.)

  • Kristi
    2018-12-09 00:02

    Knowles did a fantastic job of depicting a delicate situation, very realistically and very emotionally, through the eyes of four characters. With so many different prominent characters, I'm sure it was no easy task making each of them three-dimensional and fully developed. Kudos to Knowles for that!For me the novel was more than just a book about teenage pregnancy, it was the stark contrast between kids that come from a stable and loving home life, to ones that don't. Unfortunately, I think the plot relied on that a little to much.Knowles writing flowed nicely. This was the first novel of hers that I've read, and I'm definitely a fan of her writing. Looking forward to more novels by this author.

  • 46milestogo
    2018-12-02 03:21

    This book is beautifully written, but has a troubling message and lacks character development for all but one of the characters. Only one character Caleb, is fully fleshed out, and I came away with a real sense of who he was and how he changed over the course of the book. Corinne and Josh were more frustrating. Corinne because she was there for Ellie and fell for Caleb, but I never got a sense of her interior life past her interest in Caleb. I found it interesting that out of all the characters, Corinne's family, which seemed to be "normal," was never once glimpsed, just talked about briefly. As for Josh, his home life is very fleshed out, but other than that he's little more than the "virgin who had sex and got a girl pregnant and ends up feeling really sad." Aside from his scenes with Caleb and his father and mother, he's a very isolated character. And I'm not sure he had more than once scene with Ellie after she finds out that she's pregnant, which I would have understood except that kept seeing each other and it felt like Knowles went out of her way to make sure the characters didn't talk.Finally, there's Ellie. Her character is desperate for love, so she has sex with boys and then gets upset when they don't talk to her afterward. She has sex with Josh at the start of the book and get pregnant and spends the remainder of the book listening to other people talk to her about her options while not doing anything except crying. She finally decides to have the baby and give it up for adoption after she can't go through with an abortion, and the book closes with her tearfully wishing she had her baby but knowing she can't.Her home life, which is minimally described but seems to be your standard upper middle-class no one talks to each other and everyone acts perfect is full of your standard stereotypes down to druggie brother and distant dad. And, of course, perfection expecting and woefully unprepared for a pregnant daughter mom.Ellie is very troubling. The message Knowles seems to be sending with her is that sex without love is bad, which is a fine message, but then there's also the sex equals horrible consequences message, which is disturbing. Must we go back to the days where any female character who has sex is punished by getting pregnant/being ostracized/having someone she loves dies? Two of the three happen to Ellie, who also must deal with giving her baby up for adoption. Meanwhile, Corinne, who is a virgin, ends up in a loving relationship with Caleb, also a virgin, with the two of them sharing a "perfect" first kiss at the book's end. And Ellie and Josh who aren't virgins are miserable.

  • Todd
    2018-11-18 01:23

    I really wanted to like this book. The multiple narrators, the difficult subject, and the numerous successful turns of phrase had me hopeful. I finished it and didn't feel it was a waste of my time. But I had so many issues with it, that I was quite happy when it was over. Among the four narrators are what most would call the primary "couple" (for lack of a better term... I realize they were not a couple at all!) and the secondary couple. When I am infinitely more interested in the characters making up that secondary couple than the first, I see trouble brewing. The cover, which I realize is almost never an author decision, is very problematic. Is the teen reader to get the impression that fishnet stockings = slut? I certainly hope not. Although it seemed that the author was attempting to write a sort of Speak/Twisted sort of novel, instead, the characters almost all came across as weak and/or navel-gazing. The descriptions and thoughts of the teenage males in this book seemed forced and in some places, terribly unrealistic. Stereotypical scenes among the guys were far too common; the beer chugging, the locker room bravado, the locker room talk of getting laid, the locker room fistfight. Even the mostly absent parents (and siblings, for that matter) were a stereotype. Ho-hum. The "savior" character, Caleb's mother, was yet another stereotype of teen literature. She was too good to be true, with symbolism (the snow ANGELS) that was way too obvious. Finally, the amount of crying that took place in this novel made me feel like I needed to get out a sponge and mop up the pages. Nearly everyone, sometimes even the guys, were crying at the drop of a hat. Really? Some of the crying was justified, given this difficult topic, but some of it seemed extremely extraneous. I'm surprised an editor did not notice this and try to dry things up a bit.

  • Kaitlyn Oruska
    2018-12-11 00:31

    Extremely disappointing.With teenage pregnancy such an issue today and with the extreme popularity of shows like 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom, I can't understand why there isn't one novel out there that isn't at least somewhat realistic. For the first few chapters, I thought this book had promise. I liked the way the author incorporated different character's point of views, but that was about it. My first problem with the book was when Ellie found out she was pregnant. There was no real panic, no real emotion at all. She decided she was pregnant without taking a test, went to get an abortion, changed her mind for no given reason, and decided to give her baby up for adoption.That was the part that bothered me the most. I've read a number of teen pregnancy novels, and so far only one didn't end in adoption. This bothers me because it is completely unrealistic. There is approximately 750,000 teenage pregnancies a year in the US, and only 1% of them end in adoption. So why are 99% of the YA books about this issue the complete opposite?I could go on for days, but really, I was just extremely disappointed in this book. It had so much potential, but in my opinion, failed miserably.

  • Lena
    2018-11-17 04:08

    Okay, wow. I read this book in a few hours. I couldn't put it down, although it was incredibly sad. The kind of sad that's sort of like watching mangled victims being pulled from a car crash with limbs missing. You really don't want to see what's happening, but you can't quite look away, and you can't decide if you want to vomit or sob.This is a YA book, but the sex is very graphic, describing everything from how his fingers felt inside her (from both points of view), to the way his hand smelled afterwards. It's the most graphic and scandalous YA book I've read in terms of sexual content. Also, the language is very crude. If there's a nasty or dirty word invented, it's probably in this book. So, not for the faint of heart.The book is about a girl who sleeps with guys at parties, and they all just walk out afterwards and let their friends smell their fingers to prove they hooked up. It's pretty vomit-inducting, the way the guys in this book behave. And of course they talk about her in the locker room and share their stories with each other, since they've all hooked up with this girl who thinks that if she lets a guy have sex with her (and she never seems to do much participating) that one of them will like her. Or, that THIS one will like her. This one being Josh, who takes her to the back seat of his alcoholic father's van and tells her all this stuff so she thinks he likes her, then leaves her covered by his dog blanket without even looking at her so he can go drink w/ his friends and brag about how she was all about it, "easy come, easy go." Meanwhile, the girl feels horrible (obviously) when she sees him doing the whole hand-smelling thing, so she goes and pukes and gets a ride home w/ her friend, too humiliated to show her face at the party. Josh, meanwhile, never notices that she disappeared, and never speaks to her again throughout the book. Although the author tries to make us feel sympathy for him when the girl ends up pregnant, but mostly I just wanted to kick him in the nuts. He never speaks to her again, although he supposedly feels guilty. Even when she's pregnant and he knows it's his through their mutual friend (oh yeah, this is a girl he's known since kindergarten that he's treating like this). Josh is just glad she's not asking him for money, that she's taking care of it. Actually, he says he feels guilty about that, but he never even says sorry or says one word to her. Nice guy. Really. I felt SO sorry for HIM having to see her walking around pregnant and alone.Mostly, this book just made me hate guys a whole lot. The only good people in it are the girl's friend and the guy-friend's mom. Everyone is totally screwed up and the main girl goes through her whole pregnancy completely alone. It made me want to cry a lot, for a long, long time. Even the good-guy who was her friend only feels sorry for Josh and never tries to make anything better or get Josh to be a man and at least help the girl out when she goes to get an abortion. Or talk to her or something. Anyway, every guy in this book is completely evil, not active evil, but like evil inside by not doing anything to stop the awful things going on. At least the friend's mom and the friend are somewhat supportive. And the main girl is just pretty much pathetic and heartbreakingly needy, but pretty transparent. She was not as well-developed as the others. You never really feel like you know her, only that she wants love so desperately and never gets it from anyone. And she never seems to get mad about the guys using her and leaving her crying or puking from being so upset. I really wanted someone to stand up to Josh and put him in his place, but everyone just felt sorry for him, most of all himself. He constantly says how he's such a screw-up and he didn't come through for Ellie or be there for her, but he never even tries! Not even to maybe say hi to her in the hall. He just avoids her and brags about their hookup to his buddies and gets drunk a lot. Then he feels sorry for himself b/c he wasn't there for her, even though she would probably have let him if he tried anything. But no, he never even attempts to do one.single.thing. Oh, right, he DOES apparently write her an apology note, although we never see it. Really? A NOTE!!??Gaaa! This book made me so mad, mostly because it was very realistic as to who is held responsible and who ends up taking the fall and bearing the burder when two people have sex. The girl gets labeled a slut b/c she's pregnant and it's like a badge on her stomach, and the guys who just used her so they could say they got laid just laugh about it in the locker room and smell each other's fingers. Disgusting and tragic, but not untrue.

  • Ariel
    2018-11-23 05:27

    This was a fast-paced and short book warns us against teen pregnancy and what abortion can do in a small town. I liked it for what it was, but I think there was a lot missing from the plot. Josh seemed like a bland character. He has sec with Ellie, finishes too fast and runs away? That bit when he goes back to his friends is pretty gross, and to me unnecessary. He was pretty inconsistent throughout the book and I think he could have done a better job at being supportive. Corinne & Caleb were cute and the type of people that Ellie needed at the time but I do think that it was kind of weird that they got together or that Caleb just stopped having feelings for Ellie.

  • Leah(Simply Nerdy Book Reviews)
    2018-12-12 05:29

    This book was . . . disappointing. I'll admit, I sort of picked it up at the library on a whim, simply because I needed something to read, but I still thought it would be good. Or moving. Or . . . something. But, honestly, it wasn't.Most of the characters fell flat, and felt depressingly undernourished and uncared for. There were way too many plot jumps: I mean, let's face it, if you're reading a book about a teenage pregnancy, you actually want to find out what the teenager goes through during the pregnancy. What you don't want to see is a month-long plot jump every two chapters, virtually no details on her troubles and what she has to go through during the nine long months, and no excitement whatsoever.The least you could expect would be a book about a teenage pregnancy to actually deal with a teenage pregnancy. I'll be honest--I did whiz through this book in one night, but that definitely doesn't mean that it was good. It just means that it was a pathetically easy and unmoving read for a book that supposedly deals with such a heavy and difficult issue.The writing, for the most part, fell pretty flat, too. Alternating chapter point-of-views are great . . . for a suspenseful, well-paced book. Or for Michael Grant. But, really, that's just about all. If I want to read this book, I want to find out about how Ellie is dealing with it, and maybe John. But really? Everyone else, it's just slightly annoying. The POV changes too fast for you to even build a sort of connection with what each character is dealing with or talking about. Plus, with such little character development, the quick switches are confusing in the beginning; it's hard to remember who's eyes you're seeing from.I feel absolutely no connection to the characters, other than slight pity for Ellie and John because of their situation, and brief admiration for Liz, Caleb's mom. And, really, that's all. Maybe I'm being harsh, but I seriously wouldn't recommend this book to anyone. It wasn't bad, exactly . . . It just wasn't good. And if you're not a super fast reader, it's definitely not worth your time. If you're really bored, and you're really boring, and you like boring YA books . . . sure, go with this one. If you fall under that criteria, I'm sure you'll love it. On the plus side . . . the cover's kind of cute.

  • RitaSkeeter
    2018-11-24 22:03

    I love the author's concept with this book. She tackles a subject that seems, surprisingly, rarely touched on in YA literature. I've read quite a lot in the genre, and this is the first book I've read that has addressed teen pregnancy. The author explores this subject matter through the eyes of four adolescents affected but the pregnancy; the pregnant young woman; her best friend; the baby's father; and the father's best friend. This had the makings of an intriguing and interesting book. Unfortunately it fell flat for me, and there was a clear reason for that: the length. The copy I read had 240 odd pages, however that was with spacing between lines and large type. I read the book in under an hour, and I think that demonstrates the shortness of length as well as the simplistic vocab used. It becomes a big ask for an author to adequately explore four separate viewpoints related to teen pregnancy in so few pages, and I believe the characterisation suffered as a result. The exploration of characters and themes were both superficial and lacked any true portrayal of the issues.To sum up; an important subject matter, but the book was poorly executed.

  • Stephanie
    2018-11-22 23:07

    I can't remember the last time a book made me sob this hard.Jumping Off Swings is so beautifully written, so fiercely honest and so compelling. I read it in one intense session, because I Could Not Stop reading it. There are four different POV characters, some of whom hate or avoid each other now for really good, sympathetic reasons, and yet all four were equally compelling and real, and by the end, I cared desperately about all four of them. This is a book that never compromises the emotional truth of the very difficult situation, but it's not a grim read at all - it's just right.I loved it, and I want to push it on everyone I know. It really is that good.

  • Jeni Bell
    2018-12-07 01:24

    One “truth” is that it’s impossible to know how many people an unplanned pregnancy can affect, and all the complicated emotions that news of the pregnancy will be met with, until you’ve been there.If you’re a teenager or a young adult, you can imagine just how difficult it might be to break the news to your parents, and the shame you might feel at the thought of telling your grandparents, or the aunt or uncle you’ve always admired, or perhaps your teacher, professor, or boss. But the reactions you can’t anticipate are the ones that knock you off your feet, continually, at a time when you’re already feeling your lowest. Maybe it’s watching your little brother cry at the thought of your baby – his niece or nephew – growing up without a father in the home, if the relationship is one that may not continue. Maybe it’s the letter you receive from a relative you admire that is meant to be supportive, but one sentence cuts you to the quick – “We all make decisions that are not in our best interest” – and you can’t quite explain why the words make you cry. Maybe it’s the best friend who pulls away at a time when you need her most, because she doesn’t understand how you could have ended up in this situation to begin with, doesn’t understand or agree with the decisions you’ll make regarding the pregnancy, is scared she won’t know how to be the friend you need, or maybe, scared of the ‘What ifs?’ that the situation has prompted her to consider (‘What if it happened to me? What would I do? How close have I come to being in the same situation?’).In “Jumping Off Swings,” author Jo Knowles creates a very real portrayal of how an unplanned pregnancy affects not only the teenage girl and boy involved, but also their best friends, their parents, and the parent of a friend, and the reactions the pregnancy and the decisions made afterward elicit from students at their high school, a counselor, and even the nurses in the delivery room (who look at the girl with sympathy). The story is told in alternating, first-person points of view: those of Ellie and Josh, teenagers who have known each other since grade school, whose one-night stand leads to a pregnancy, and those of Caleb and Corinne, their best friends.What makes this story so powerful is the depth to which Knowles portrays the complex reactions to the pregnancy.Ellie’s parents, who are heartbroken, can barely look at her.Josh’s father chides his son for not being more careful, but is relieved when he hears from the father of another boy that Ellie will be taking care of things on her own.Caleb, who has adored Ellie from afar since they were kids, is crushed that Ellie would give herself so easily to someone who doesn’t care about her enough to want a relationship. He’s angry with his best friend, Josh, for not taking responsibility--and later, angry with himself for not helping Josh understand his rights, particularly when Josh is suffering, too.Josh is embarrassed about the way he treated Ellie after their one-night stand, and wrestles with knowing the only chance he might have to see his child is during a stolen glance inside the nursery.Corinne, who is beginning to develop feelings for Caleb, is irritated that Caleb would continue his friendship with Josh when Josh hasn’t stood by Ellie – and feels powerless in her own efforts to protect and comfort Ellie.“Jumping Off Swings” is the type of novel that parents should both give their teens to read and read themselves, so that discussions about the differences between words and love, and between love and sex – and the complicated tangle of feelings that can arise from both – can take place. It is the first YA novel I’ve read that explores just how far-reaching the effects of one pregnancy can be – and is a powerful reminder that the actions we take can have consequences we can’t predict.

  • Marjorie Light
    2018-12-14 00:03

    Once I had the pleasure of hearing Jo Knowles present at the NESCBWI agent/author panel and she was simply lovely – intelligent, gentle, and giving. Then I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of her latest novel JUMPING OFF SWINGS and that forever imprinted her in my mind. Her talent is evident here – the prose straightforward, but powerful, while the dialogue is natural and emotionally charged. I stayed up until I finished it, because I couldn’t wait for morning to discover the ending.This YA novel examines the tragedy of teen pregnancy from four points of view – Ellie, the girl who becomes pregnant; Josh, the teen father, and Corinne and Caleb, their two best friends. That choice of having four first-person narratives is perfect, as we see how the pregnancy impacts each one. The chapters alternate between them, each labeled. Knowles’ writing is so clear and her voices so distinct, however, that I found myself actually ignoring the titles as I rushed to see what would happen next…and I always knew whose voice I was hearing.The imagery in JUMPING OFF SWINGS is well done, too. I especially loved the scenes in the playground, tender, laced with regret. Knowles makes each setting distinct and provides the reader with enough variety to keep it interesting, but not so much that it confuses. The structure of the novel is even, with a nice flow from beginning to end. The plot arc pulls us through each scene, tugging us toward the ending, as we yearn for answers to Ellie’s situation.As an educator and writer, I always love a book for teens that has a vital message and strong themes. Often times, unfortunately, authors feel they need to beat the reader over the head with both to get them to understand. Jo Knowles knows better. She understands her readers. She doesn’t say, “Hey, kids, let’s all remember: don’t have a baby when you’re still a kid yourself!” Instead, she shows us the pain it causes, the chasms it creates, and the scars it leaves. She gently takes us by the hand and leads us along the darkened path, illuminating the characters’ souls, exposing their needs and wants to all. We are left to make our own decisions, but her writing is so poignant and lyrical – and true – that there is really only one path we can follow after the last word is read. Sadly, I had a friend who experienced a similar situation to Ellie’s when she was young. Her gut-wrenching sobs came back to me as I read this novel. Knowles captures that angst perfectly. Her characters wrestle with the same torments, made all the worse when Ellie’s pregnancy becomes known. At one point, I actually clutched the book to me and cried, as if I was consoling my friend all those years ago.The dialogue throughout is thoughtful and natural, and even though there are surprises with the plot, it is all so realistic. Teens will love this novel for the straightforward way it deals with a sensitive topic and the path Knowles takes in capturing the anguish. Although the subject matter is weighty, the reader is shown patches of light through use of humor and the strong theme of friendship. This YA novel has both adult situations and language, but is not too graphic. Both male and female teens will appreciate the style and alternating points of view and JUMPING OFF SWINGS would make for great discussions with literature circles and book clubs. Adult readers, especially women, will find this novel of interest, as well. If you are searching for a novel that will touch your heart and leave you contemplating it long after you are finished, read JUMPING OFF SWINGS by Jo Knowles. Available August 11, 2009 by Candlewick Press from both indie bookstores near you and major booksellers! To see the author’s website, go to:

  • Sarah
    2018-11-18 23:22

    From my review site: http://yalibrariantales.blogspot.comJumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles is a realistic portrayal of teen pregnancy and teen relationships that is gripping. Synopsis:Ellie remembers how the boys kissed her. Touched her. How theybegged for more. And when she gave it to them, she felt loved. For a while anyway. So when Josh, an eager virgin with a troubled home life, leads her from a party to the backseat of his van, Ellie follows. But their "one-time thing" is far from perfect: Ellie gets pregnant. Josh reacts with shame and heartbreak, while their confidantes, Caleb and Corinne, deal with their own complex swirl of emotions. No matter what Ellie chooses, all four teenagers will be forced to grow up a little faster as a result. Told alternately from each character’s point of view, this deeply insightful novel explores the aftershocks of the biggest decision of one fragile girl’s life — and the realities of leaving innocence behind. Told in alternating point of views (Ellie, the pregnant teen, Josh, the boy who is the father-to-be, Corinne, the best friend, and Caleb, the boy who has a big crush on Ellie but is also Josh's best friend), Jumping Off Swings captures just how easily teens nowadays lose their innocence too quickly to the realities of the world, to peer pressure, to high school, and to the need to be loved.I couldn't help comparing this book with the movie Juno in my mind. Where Juno was a rather quirky take on this topic, Jo Knowles takes a more somber and though I keep repeating it, realistic approach to Ellie's sex life and subsequent pregnancy. While the novel isn't constantly dark, it is a very hard reality for many people to face so the tone of the story matches the topic nature. And well, I liked the fact that it did. This is not a topic to be taken lightly by any means and I'm glad the author did not approach it this way. I really liked the alternative viewpoints in this story. And I also like how the situation was not black and white. Josh wasn't a terrible boy by any means. Like many boys his age, he wanted sex. He even wore protection, but like life, not everything can be easy.I also liked the contrast between Ellie's unhealthy relationships with boys to Corinne and Caleb's more slowly building friendship and interest in each other. Granted, they were forced together under a very painful situation, but they also learned something from Ellie and Josh, both positive and negative.This is a very grey area book if that makes sense to any readers out there. This situation isn't black and white and the author doesn't attempt to make it so. The author uses language very well in this story too. You don't get the images of sunshine and kittens while reading, rather, the text is sparse and carries a lot of weight, much like the characters are carrying on their shoulders.Friendship is a strong theme in this story, and like teen pregnancy, teen friendship is not spared. You will see the bad decisions friends make, the lengths they are willing to go for each other, and how sometimes, you just have to carry your friend with your own strength.I haven't read Jo Knowles first book yet but I've requested it via ILL so I hope to read it soon.(This book was provided from the publisher for the Cybils Awards.)

  • Lilibeth
    2018-11-26 04:14

    I have to say up front that this is not a happily ever after book, and I'm slowly starting to realize that most books in general--excluding romance, of course--are not all going to end up that way. When it comes to facing the reality in life, and making hard decisions like choosing whether or not you want to keep your baby when you're so young, you must go through the grueling process of looking at what's led to you there and facing the truth about people you depend on. Jumping Off Swings tells a story about how one girl's decision affects the lives of the people around her. So many voices are to be heard in this book, you will not be able to ignore any. Speaking of ignorance, I noticed that it was a major theme, as well as emptiness. Ellie feels like she has no one except her best friend, Corrine to help her through this process of gradual-heartbreak and undeniable situations. Slowly, she figures out that Corrine's not the only one looking at for her, even when her family's not.When the other characters are introduced into Ellie's story, they all have a role to play throughout her pregnancy. Once the cat comes out of the bag, no one's more shocked and affected than the father. It was healthy, I guess you could say, to read a guy's point of view when it comes to finding out that his "one-night-stand" where he lost his virginity ended up impregnating the girl with the sad, expectant eyes. Admittedly, I just wanted to punch the group of guys that all have a "set" opinion about Ellie because they've been with her. But then, I wanted to yell at Ellie for being so naive. And then...well, I blamed the parents. I don't know if it's because I'm a teenager myself but if the parents aren't there for you throughout your life and don't guide you in any way, odds are there is going to be one mistake in your life that's going to indirectly be their fault. Ever since I was little, in my head I've always built up this argument in my head that "kids take things literally when they're young, and parents have no clue." They either don't care, or can't see how their way of life is affecting their child every single day as the child is growing up. As Ellie's parents weren't there for her, but a friend's mother was.Before I go into full-on rant mode, I want to say that Knowles did a fantastic job in gripping your attention with Jumping Off Swings. It showed that people are not perfect, and that they all have different ways of coping. This short, multi-p.o.v book was amazing empathetic, and broken up into every few months to get the true aspect of the progressing due date. There were just minor things I would have argued with that are most likely due to my biased opinions, but nothing major can turn you away from this book.Grade: B

  • Kate
    2018-11-21 00:17

    Full disclosure...I know and like author Jo Knowles, and I had already heard praise from some early readers of JUMPING OFF SWINGS, so I was ready to like this book. Even so, I was blown away by the characters and the spare, poignant prose.JUMPING OFF SWINGS is a book about love and sex and friendship, about loss of innocence and how we all survive it. It's one of the most beautiful, most honest YA novels I've ever read and reminded me of Judy Blume's FOREVER in the way it approached the realities of teenagers' decisions about sex without ever being heavy-handed. Read it. Your heart will ache for friends Ellie, Josh, Caleb, and Corinne as they deal with Ellie's pregnancy after what was supposed to be a "one-time thing" at a party. The characters are so beautifully whole and real that I found myself thinking about them - worrying about them and wishing futures for them - long after I'd turned the final page.The chapters - alternating between the four main characters' points of view - are short, making this a perfect choice for reluctant teen readers, but really, it should be a must-read for every teen, boys and girls alike.

  • Kate
    2018-11-26 04:03

    Ellie always thinks it will be different, but every time she hooks up with a guy, he's just using her for sex. Caleb has always liked Ellie, and can't believe his friend Josh hooked up with her. Now Ellie is pregnant, and that will affect them all...I thought this book did a nice job of showing how a pregnancy can affect everyone around a person, not just the person having the baby. It was good to see guys reacting to a pregnancy and not just disowning any responsibility, and it was also good to see a variety of parental styles and reactions. Not surprisingly, Ellie's parents' reaction showed exactly why Ellie was looking for love in this way to begin with, and I liked the contrast of Josh's parents' reactions and his own view. The bullying at school wasn't explored as in-depth as the lives of the four main characters, but then again, I think there's a lot of "looking the other way" in this kind of situation that is illustrated very well here.Parental advisory: some swearing, and obviously sex and its consequences are fully explored.

  • Trisha
    2018-11-22 06:22

    This is not an easy topic. I picked this up for a challenge not really knowing what I would get myself into.but I'm glad I did. I think Jo Knowles does a great job of not victimizing OR shaming anyone in this book. It's a great example of the ultimate...oops. It does point out the inequalities - but these are things we already know. Does Ellie wear her proof every day while he just walks around with no one knowing. Does Ellie get to make all the choices and he has very few, if any. Yeah. but it's the closer look into their lives that is what makes this a good book. Josh isn't the horrible guy he looks like he could be. And Ellie isn't the tramp the school kids make her out to be. And Corrine and Caleb, Liz and all the surrounding families - collateral damage. As a reader, you want to judge and label and be upset with choices in the book, but the reality is that each person's truth for this kind of situation is their own. And this one just happens to be Ellie's...and three of her friends. And it's a very real story.

  • Luke
    2018-12-08 02:06

    Pretty good read. Not quite as good as "Lessons from a Dead Girl", but amazing nonetheless. I don't know how Jo Knowles does it, but she can tug at your heartstrings like no other author can. This story had me on the verge of tears several times and this, unlike "Lessons from a Dead Girl" had a somewhat happy ending. Although I felt like the last chapter was a bit unnecessary, it made you feel like the story was complete. I look forward to reading her next book!

  • Magg {Morgan} Paukner
    2018-11-24 04:10

    Honestly, I think the ending was unfufilling but this book was absolutely amazing. Thoughts to come.

  • Taylar Bryant
    2018-11-19 03:20

    I really didn't like it that much because it was boring and everything was going slow until she got pregnant and she was getting bullied for that and her hiding it from her mom. I like the part in the book where her best friend was taking up for her when they wrote Slut on her locker because she was known for sleeping around and she ended up pregnant and the boy she got pregnant by caught feelings for her but didn't want to say anything. I didn't like when she thought about aborting the baby either

  • Kelly
    2018-12-13 01:16

    Jumping Off Swings is told from the perspective of four different high school students and their struggles as they help a friend through an unplanned pregnancy. I think everyone can relate to each of the characters in some way. Ellie is the young girl who just wants to feel good about herself and experience a true, romantic relationship; instead, she ends up hooking up with boys who want nothing more than sex. Corinne is the best friend who is both concerned for Ellie and annoyed with her repeated mistakes. She feels guilty being happy while her best friend is so miserable. Josh is the boy who knocks up Ellie. Because of his actions, most people think he is a jerk when, in reality, he just made a mistake like Ellie and is now trying his hardest to not make anything worse. Lastly, there is Caleb who gets stuck in the middle of everything. He is a genuine nice guy, and although he has feelings for both Corinne and Ellie, Josh is also his best friend. Like Corinne, he feels a certain kind of guilt when he makes decisions for himself.To me, these characters are not cliches; they are authentic adolescents experiencing a lot of confusing emotion. Often the four kids feel like they want to disappear and escape: "Maybe this time, if I pump hard enough, I can jump off and fly right out of here," Josh says. It is a very real feeling when you are sixteen years old (at least in my experience), and I think Knowles does a good job of highlighting this drama in a sympathetic and realistic way. Unlike the individual teenagers, the families might be a little more cliched. Caleb has a hip, liberal single mom who conceived Caleb from a sperm donation whose owner could not care less about being a part of Caleb's life. Ellie's family never shares their emotions or communicates effectively (her mom is referred to as "an orange-juice-commercial mom), and Josh has a broken family with a drunk father and a neglectful mother. The parents or lack of parents have all messed up the kids emotionally. I like to think that not every teenager is screwed over by a broken family, but in this book, they all are.The focus of this novel, which I have barely mentioned, is Ellie's pregnancy. Knowles shows how difficult every single decision is when you are a young girl, still in high school, with a baby inside you. Knowles does not seem to make a case for what exactly a teenager should do in Ellie's shoes. Instead, she just depicts the struggle of having to make the decisions that Ellie has to make. This is not a lighthearted novel. It lacks the tear-jerking, feel-good ending that a movie like Juno has because, in reality, the teenager who has to give up a baby will probably not be content strumming a guitar with the father after everything has ended. Knowles certainly makes that clear in Jumping Off Swings.

  • Michelle
    2018-12-05 03:29

    Told alternately from the perspective of four life-long friends: Caleb, Corrine, Josh and Ellie, Jumping Off Swings is a book that deals with the consequences of teen pregnancy - and the fact that it affects the life of everyone, not just the young mother. Parents, friends, teachers, classmates, the father, mother, the child - everyone. Ellie and Corinne has been friends since elementary school but Corinne has been worried about her beautiful friend ever since she started sleeping with guys and feeling heartbroken when it didn't lead to anything long-term. Sporting a massive crush on Ellie ever since second grade, Caleb is disgusted to find out his friend Josh not only slept with Ellie at a party but then left her and bragged about it to his friends afterwards. Now all four are caught up in the aftermath of depression, anger and scorn as Ellie discovers she is pregnant at 16.This is a delicate topic all around and I felt like Knowles handled it with all the acre it deserved. That said, I still wouldn't recommend it to just anyone: it was such a mature, emotional roller coaster which brought out so many feelings. It wasn't just a fluff story of a girl facing the scorn of family and friends while trying to decide what to do. There was very real character development. All four of the teens voices came across so clearly I understood the choices they made because I knew them. My only problem was I felt like every one of the teens portrayed had a terrible home life, minus one. Which of course can lead to someone making not so wise choices, but still, it seemed more than a little depressing at times.I was a little unsettled about the relationship between Ellie and her mom however. Ellie basically goes through the whole book with some serious self-esteem/self-worth issues. Coming from a family that isn't exactly the most loving or touchy-feely, she has tried to find that fulfillment in the boys she dates. Okay, I get it: teenager doesn't feel loved (especially by parents) and so turns to boys at a young age. What I have a problem with is the face that even though her mother is basically MIA from her entire life at one point she and Ellie have sort of a kodak moment which seems to ask the reader to believe that even though their relationship has been non-existent up to this point, it will be better in the future. Personally, I really don't see that happening. It wasn't even that grand of a peace offering on her mother's part in the first place and I just felt that Ellie's pain was perhaps a little too serious for her mom's 'too little, too late' gesture. That said, Jo Knowles could have just been illustrating the point that these two completely opposite people will probably struggle to connect for their entire lives.

  • Sensitivemuse
    2018-12-13 23:29

    Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles covers a teenage pregnancy through the eyes of four characters: Ellie the would be mother, Corinne her best friend, Caleb the nice guy who's had a crush on Ellie, and Josh, the would be father. Throughout the story you go through Ellie's pregnancy and how each of these characters feel as they try to help her through her ordeal. I found it a very sombre story. Ellie just wants to feel and be loved. Although she's going about it the wrong way, as you read more into her character, you see her family isn't your typical loving one. As you figure out how her family really is, you understand and start to sympathize with her as the story progresses. I have to admit I didn't really have much patience for Ellie. I just felt like shaking my head and slapping her across the face and telling her to wake up, grow up and do the responsible thing whatever it is. On the other hand, she's extremely scared. This sort of thing is very life changing, so her behaviour is understandable. The plot flows well throughout this story, each chapter is told in each of the character's perspective so you have a glimpse of how they live and they problems and issues they face even though it's all centralized with Ellie. I can't help but think this is like one of those made for TV after school specials for teens. It sure seems that way when I was reading this book. However, it does the job of engrossing me and kept me turning the pages to read on. Most of the time you just feel so sad for Ellie and what she's going through (once your initial anger phase goes away). I changed my mind about her more than halfway through the book and realized that she indeed is a very brave person to go through her decisions regarding her baby. The only thing that irks me is Josh. I don't know how the rest of the guys feel when they're having an unexpected surprise spring on them by a girlfriend. I suppose the pessimistic side of me expects them to just take a hike and leave. Although I know most guys probably aren't that way, you just hear about the bad ones more. So I'm not sure if Josh as a character is realistic but that's just me. You would think most guys would run away at the sound of "baby" and "yours" put together. Other than that, I thought all characters had a sense of realism to them. They weren't the cookie cutter ones you read in some of those teen books where everything is perfect. They each have their issues and problems too. It makes the characters almost "three dimensional" so to speak. The ending leaves with a sombre note too, but with a sense of optimism for some of the characters.Overall a good sombre, serious read, but a satisfying one.

  • Jenni Arndt
    2018-12-09 06:14

    You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.Jumping off Swings was a book that I bought on a whim. I was perusing my local bookstore when I saw the cover and was drawn in by the empty feeling that it gave me. The cover is the perfect pretense for the novel. It's a very quick read, clocking in at 230 pages, I read it in a single 2 hour sitting and I was completely captivated from page 1 all the way to page 230. I wasn't too sure what to get out of this, all I knew was that it was about a teenage pregnancy.What we get within these pages is a story told in quick chapters, constantly switching POV. That seems to be a new fad, and I am slowly becoming a fan. The varying voices were distinct and I always knew who I was reading about. We have Ellie, a girl who is looking for love in all the wrong places. She is quick to trust and is so desperate to find companionship that she is constantly being let down in the worst way possible. While I will admit I was constantly shaking my head how quick she was to let a guy into her pants, I knew many girls like her growing up. The girls who took one sweet comment to mean that the guy wanted to be with her for the rest of their lives. Once her actions got her pregnant, she definitely learned her lesson on that front but I still felt for her along the way. The guy stuck in the mix with her, Josh was also a character that was very well developed. He had it rough at home and he was so lost in the situation.Josh and Ellie have two very supportive friends in Caleb and Corinne and not only do we get to see that side of the friends but we also get to watch a very healthy teenage relationship blossom between them. Their romance was cute and served to show the more mainstream side of things as a bit of a contrast. Under the circumstances, seeing what their friends were going through, they were very hesitant and knew that they had to take things rather slowly so as to not end up in their own mess. Caleb's mom is always there as well, and she was the kind of mom I hope to be one day. She was a mom through and through but she was someone that her son and his friends could turn to when they needed advice. In a story of teenage turbulence there are a lot of beautiful relationships that blossom in Jumping off Swings. In the short amount of pages that I absorbed I grew to feel for these characters and essentially care about their well-being. If you are on the hunt for a quick read that will actually make you feel, then pick this one up the next time you are book shopping.

  • Lexi
    2018-12-01 05:03

    This book is about how a girl named Ellie has sex a lot. She had sex with Josh a boy from her school and she got pregnant. She was at a party and he wanted to lose his virginity so she did it with him. Her friend Corinne helps her through it and so does Caleb and his mom. She doesn't want anyone but Corinne to know. When she starts hanging out with Caleb his mom notices and says something through a note. Ellie reads it in class and starts to ball her eyes out. She goes to talk to Caleb's mom to see what she should do. Eventually she tells her parents. After a while Things start to go around and Josh finally figures it out but at the end of the book. She ended up giving the baby up for adoption and Josh never got to see the baby even though he really wanted to because he didn't show up in time."I knew my chances of seeing the baby were pretty slim"(205). The main characters are Ellie the one who is pregnant, Corinne Ellie's best friend, Josh the father, Caleb Corine's boyfriend and Ellie's friend, also Caleb's mom towards the end.I think the author did a great job writing this book. I loved it, I liked how it was written and what the subject was. She wrote it in 4 different peoples perspective. I liked the subject because it makes you realize how hard it is to be a teen mom even if you don't keep the baby. It kind of did move me a little, it was quite sad what she had to go through and what the dad had to go through too. I did learn that even if you don't keep the baby it's really hard. I think my friends would like this book. I recommend it to people my age and probably only girls would want to read it. I don't think a boy could really get into reading this book. I would rate this book a 5 out of 5. I loved this book. I would read it more then once it was so good. The subject of this book and how she wrote it made me remember everything she said. Some books I will just forget what I have read but in this one I remembered everything. Most of the IRP books I have read I don't read at home but this one was getting so good I read it at home. I read like 50 pages when I go home one night and finished the book because I just couldn't put it down. If I keep reading for ever that mean I really like the book. I don't like reading much but there are some books that make me read it without stopping and this was one of those books.

  • Catherine
    2018-12-16 02:08

    This is a fast read (seriously -- I read it in about 90 minutes when all was said and done) and a nice idea that was fairly well-executed.Knowles treats us to the standard high school sex politics (boy sleeps around and he's pimp of the year, girl sleeps around and she's tramp of the century) as well as the age-old poor little rich girl who seeks the love her parents never give her in the arms of boys who believe that there is really such a thing as sex with no strings attached in a suburban high school. So those parts were a little too armchair psychology and cliche for my liking. There was absolutely nothing new on that front.That said, though, I have to remind myself that this is for Young Adults, and I think of my students who haven't sat through Psych 101 yet ... and I can think of few books that demonstrate these ideas so well. So, while the story is not really revolutionary for me, I can see how this book could be quite earth-shakingly illuminating for some of my kids. In that vein, I really appreciate the fact that these are not simply teenagers who "forgot" to use a condom (like every other teenage pregnancy story EVER TO EXIST) ... but more a reminder of the fact that condoms are only 97% effective WHEN USED CORRECTLY (and that a lot of people DON'T use them properly at all). Nice job Knowles.There is also a lot of very good, frank discussion on (but not limited to) the following topics: responsibility to oneself and one's family, friendship, integrity, denial, reproductive rights, family dynamics, innocence lost and alcohol use.From a more literary perspective, I liked the use of multiple narrators (even if their voices were not quite distinct enough; I sometimes had to flip back to remind myself of which character was narrating the chapter) and there was a killer metaphor that involved an old toy car. Caleb was absolutely the most well-developed character and easily my favorite. I wish that Knowles hadn't used the whole playground as a metaphor for innocence shtick, but oh well. What's done is done.Again -- not groundbreaking for an adult (but definitely worth reading), but a very solid and well-written novel for teens (mostly 8th-10th grade, I'd say).

  • Jennifer Wardrip
    2018-12-17 00:18

    Reviewed by Allison Fraclose for TeensReadToo.comEllie doesn't wonder why she keeps ending up in the same situation with so many guys. She knows that she likes the way they touch her and treat her like she's special, and each time, she hopes that she'll end up with someone who can love her.But she only ends up heartbroken, and, after the last time with fumbling virgin, Josh, she ends up with much more than just the emotional aftereffects of a one night stand. A baby is now on the way, and Ellie can't hide the evidence of who she is any longer, since it's popping from her belly for all to see.Josh had been promised by his friends that there'd be no strings attached with Ellie. However, he can't get over the way she looked at him when he left her there in his father's van. He knows he screwed up, and, now, he's sure of it. Even though he hasn't spoken to Ellie since, the baby that he is destined to never see will haunt him forever, no matter what Ellie decides to do.For Caleb, Josh's best friend, Ellie's pregnancy turns his feelings for his friends upside down. He can't believe what jerks Josh and the others have been to the girl he's loved since the first grade, but, at the same time, he manages to be the confidant and provide solace to Josh, Ellie, and Ellie's best friend, Corrine.As one used to picking up the pieces of her friend's bad decisions, Corrine does her best to push Ellie to make the right choices, but even she can only do so much while Ellie deals with her own emotions. As Corrine and Caleb grow closer despite the situation surrounding them, Corrine tries to protect Ellie as best she can from those who only see her for the mistake she made.This emotional journey takes us right into the minds of these four characters as they all react in their own manner to the most delicate of situations. Full of heart-wrenching turmoil and tricky social balance, the author does an excellent job of showing us the most of these narrators with as few words as possible.

  • Sarah
    2018-11-24 04:06

    Told from the point of view of 4 teens effected by an accidental pregnancy caused by a one night encounter between "love starved loose Ellie" and "lonely family life Josh". Despite the flat, one note characters, or maybe partially because of them, YALSA correctly selected this title as a Top Ten Pick for Reluctant Readers. It's fast moving, with short chapters, lots of drama (sex, drugs,boy peer pressure, but all in a safe/ afterschool special way), and avoids complications to the simple emo-angst plot. It took me all of 2 hours to read at one sitting, but meets the magical 200 page teacher requirement for independent reading. Score. Maybe that's why YALSA also picked it as a Best Book for Young Adults, to lend it some credibility. I needed a little more from the characters. Even when Ellie told the story, I never felt like I knew her or what was really inside her head, aside from the obviously repeated point that she equated sex with love, and longed to be touched/accepted/loved..blah,blah,blah. Knowles tells rather than shows entirely too much. When "absentee father Caleb" avoids talking to the girls about his mother's painting of man with his back to a baby, Knowles has to come back later to beat us over the head with it, Caleb admitting that, gasp, that man is his father. Still, the obviousness does make the book accessible to those struggling with reading and reading comprehension, so, yes, give it to your reluctant readers, but, best book for teens? I don't think so.

  • Katie
    2018-11-23 02:32

    Ellie can't believe this is happening. She thought Josh was different than all the other boys. She thought he might actually care for her. Instead he proved that all he wanted was one thing and now that he's gotten what he wanted he has no more use for her.Little does Ellie know, she's pregnant and Josh is the father. The only person she can tell is her best friend who doesn't know how to help her. Instead things get even more tangled when Corinne involves Josh's best friend, Caleb.What will Ellie choose to do about her pregnancy? Can Josh prove to Ellie that not all guys are after one thing only? Will Ellie's home life ever improve?Jumping Off Swings was one of those books that just didn't do it for me. I think it was just too short. I felt like I didn't get any background information about any of the characters and it really made the book hard for me to like.In the book you can tell that Ellie's home life is screwed up and it even mentions it once or twice but I never knew why it was so messed up. I was really confused. Also, you saw glimpses of Caleb's and Josh's home lives but you never once got any insight into Corinne's family situation. It just didn't make any sense to me.Also I just hated the ending. I felt like things were unfinished and I was just left thinking, huh? I know a ton of other people who really liked Jumping Off Swings but I was not one of them. I'm not saying don't read it if you think you might like it, I'm saying maybe check it out from the library before buying it.