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Jumping Off Swings [Kindle Edition]

Jo Knowles
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up—Ellie has sex with boys who make her feel wanted and beautiful and then never call again. Even seemingly decent Josh, a virgin, leaves right after their tryst and never speaks to her again. It turns out the condom "slipped off" (?) and she gets pregnant. The next nine months are narrated by four charaters—Ellie, Josh, and their best friends, Corinne and Caleb. Ellie's and Josh's families are filled with stock dysfunction—from Ellie's shrill, uptight mother and perfect-on-the-outside home to Josh's washed-up, hard-drinking father and hapless mother. The plot of this novel is tired, but Corinne and Caleb, at least, are mercifully convincing and thoughtful. Each, of course, comes from a stable family. Caleb's single mother is the novel's moral center. The blaring contrast between stable kids from loving families versus lost kids from dysfunctional families oversimplifies a complex subject. Knowles writes fluidly, and though Caleb's and Corinne's scenes shine, Ellie and Josh never engage enough to set Jumping Off Swings apart in the genre.—Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Absorbing from first page to last, this sensitively written novel explores how a teenager's crisis rocks her life as well as the lives of others. (starred review) --Publishers Weekly, August 10, 2009

Product Details

  • File Size: 342 KB
  • Print Length: 242 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0763639494
  • Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (March 16, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003BX08K0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,753 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jo Knowles writes the truth October 5, 2009
I picked up this book on a Friday night. I only intended to read for 20 minutes. An hour and a half later, I had to force myself to put the book down. I finished the rest in one gulp on Saturday.

I write entertainment. Jo Knowles writes the truth.

Jumping Off Swings is about what happens when a high school girl gets pregnant after a one-night stand (more like a five-minute stand). The choices she made and makes affect her, the father of the child, and their friends. The book is told from their alternating first-person points of view. It made me cry. I think many girls and women can relate to Ellie, who is looking for love but finds sex instead. And I think guys could relate to Josh, who isn't a jerk, but instead trying to figure out what it means to be a man.

I understand there have been some challenges to the book. I am unhesitatingly giving this to my 14 year old.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Realistic Look at the Life of a Teenager September 13, 2009
I am typically a slow reader because it takes a LOT to capture my attention. I read this book in one sitting!

Jo Knowles is absolutely brilliant! By alternating this story from four characters' perspectives, this book moved at a quick pace. Often, we only see how one or two characters' actions affect themselves. In Jumping Off Swings, we see how the decision made by two characters affects the lives of many people.

In this novel, the characters are truly brought to life. I was very emotionally involved while reading Swings. I could sympathize with each of the characters and their personal battles. It was almost as though I was placed in their shoes. As one would assume, the character I felt most connected with was Ellie, the teenager who becomes pregnant. She faces many interpersonal conflicts, and while I was reading I actually cried (with real tears) for her.

In Swings, Jo Knowles tackles not only teen pregnancy, but she brings to surface issues of peer pressure, family issues, friendship, romantic relationships, and the importance of confidence in one's self. She has articulately written a book that should be discussed. Not only is it captivating, but it causes you to think at a deeper level.

In my opinion, Jumping Off Swings is one of the best books of 2009, and I highly recommend it to anyone.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Read: Not Your Average Teen Pregnancy Novel August 29, 2010
A Kid's Review
Excellent book; I read it in one sitting! Knowles weaves the story through different view points, creating lots of depth. Her characters are realistic and complex unlike many one-sided teenage characters in other novels. It's a quick read, but nonetheless a good one. I would highly recommend it along with her debut novel Lessons from a Dead Girl.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richie's Picks: JUMPING OFF SWINGS September 16, 2009
Ellie (in September) "I can still feel a trace of his warm lips against mine as he slips away from me and fumbles for the door to his father's van. I stay lying under the scratchy wool blanket on the backseat, wishing he'd stay. When he slides the door open, the ceiling light blinks on and exposes our faces to each other. His hair is rumpled. His brown eyes avoid mine.

"'Thanks, Ellie. See you inside?' "I nod. "He slides the door shut and leaves me in the dark."

Who can forget the exhilarating sensation of jumping off a swing and soaring through the air? Of course, the trick is to then land safely.

The four teens who narrate JUMPING OFF SWINGS -- Ellie, Josh, Caleb, and Corinne -- have grown up knowing each other and are now together in high school. The one constant and common denominator in their lives is the park that lies at the center of their neighborhood.

I did hear some stories but was never a witness to those adolescent male bonding "rituals" through which guys encourage each other to follow through on their hormonal urges at the cost of whichever vulnerable, gullible, exploitable female is at hand. To Caleb's horror, his best friend Josh has succumbed to that peer pressure and has not only taken advantage of Ellie, but has returned to the party to be enthusiastically congratulated on his conquest. He is unaware that Ellie sees some of the celebrating as she escapes the scene. And little does Josh know what the cost of losing his virginity in the van will be for the quartet.

Josh (in December)

"The swings and slide and other playground stuff are covered with snow. I stand there like an idiot, wondering how this all happened. Cars go by, splashing slush at the backs of my legs. My right hand is throbbing inside my pocket.
Read more ›
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Jumping Off Swings August 26, 2009
Jumping Off Swings is told from the point of view of four teenagers, using alternating chapters. This is one of my absolute favourite narrative techniques, and is the main reason I read this book in the first place.

I really enjoyed Knowles' writing style, and her ability to make me care for every single character she presented. I sympathised with them, I understood their worries and, more than anything, I wanted them to be okay. Caleb's relationship with his mother, Liz, was a high point for me, as well as Corinne's devotion to Ellie. Strong, lasting friendships can be hard to come by, but if they can survive a life-changing event like the one Corinne and Ellie experience, it's more than likely they'll last for life.

The subject of teen pregnancy is handled well, and shines a spotlight on the ramifications of unprotected sex. For most girls, an unplanned pregnancy would be top of their list of worst nightmares, and I'm glad that it wasn't handled lightly here. Seeing it from Josh's male perspective was both interesting and unusual, and it's good to find out how a boy would react in this situation, as their feelings are often forgotten or glossed over. I'm a big fan of teenage realism, and Knowles definitely knows how to write her characters with truth and sincerity.

Although Jumping Off Swings has good protagonists and an emotional story, I felt like it was missing something. I enjoyed it, but it didn't have that spark, or that feeling you get when you know you've read something special. I think its importance lies within the messages it's trying to get across -- respect yourself, appreciate your friendships, and never let one bad desicion shape the rest of your life.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Real!
This book was so real and so raw, it was a real tear jerker. All teens should have to read this book!
Published 28 days ago by G. Messick
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book
It shines a light into teenage pregnancy ; abortion ; alcoholism. Great book to read. Read it in less than a day. Only question is... is there a sequel?
Published 29 days ago by pamela corona
4.0 out of 5 stars sure
I liked it an all but I'm kind of into happy endings and closure I mean there was but I still wasn't completely happy with this and I knowin real life there's not always happy... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars very sad and realistic
I loved the details of the feelings of each character. I guess I'm a hopeless romantic because I was rooting for the story book ending that was happy. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Leslie
5.0 out of 5 stars No unrealistic happy endings here
I'm long past being a teenager, but I think this is a book every teenager should read. No unrealistic happy endings here. Read more
Published 5 months ago by karen fredericks
4.0 out of 5 stars but very good. Love that it's a little more realistic than ...
Not what I expected, but very good. Love that it's a little more realistic than the average happily ever after.
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
I'm only 13 and I hate reading but I had to read a book for school so I picked see you at Harry's and I loved it so I said let me read another one so I picked this book and omg I... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Jenni
3.0 out of 5 stars but not enough to recommend.
Kept my interest enough to keep reading, but not enough to recommend.
Published 7 months ago by lilacgal2
3.0 out of 5 stars It was interesting to have each character share their thoughts ...
It was interesting to have each character share their thoughts from their own perspective. Really didn't have much sympathy for Ellie. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Unknown
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh.
This was a super quick read. While it was enticing, I didn't find much of a point. The ending was pretty disappointing, but perhaps that was the point all along.
Published 7 months ago by Faith Pancone
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