- Paperback: 186 pages
- Publisher: Random House Inc (1 Feb. 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375866264
- ISBN-13: 978-0375866265
- Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 1 x 21 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,128,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Jumpstart the World Paperback – 1 Feb 2012
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About the Author
CATHERINE RYAN HYDE is the author of four other young adult novels: Becoming Chloe, The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance, The Day I Killed James, and Diary of a Witness. She is also the author of several adult novels, including the national bestseller Pay It Forward, Love in the Present Tense, Electric God, and Chasing Windmills. Catherine Ryan Hyde is also an award-winning short story writer and a professional speaker. She lives in California and writes full-time.
Top Customer Reviews
Elle is in quite a strange situation that I couldn't quite get my head around: she's living alone because her mother's boyfriend couldn't deal with her. I'm not saying it doesn't happen but I was shocked her mother would do that. In a way though, it helps Elle to come out of her shell and grow as a person.
Elle was a good character but, to me, she felt more of a channel for the story, a way to tell the stories of the far more interesting supporting characters. But, in a book like this, that's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm glad Elle didn't overshadow the other characters because they felt like the main draw.
Frank was the best character, a sweet man with no qualms about befriending a lonely fifteen year old. While we, as readers, know he is a transman, Elle doesn't. And when she does, she has no idea how to deal with it, resorting to hurting Frank and pushing him away. It was heartening to know that, even when she initially rejected him, he is still there for Elle. And Elle is there for him when he needed it too. It was a nice, sometimes awkward, friendship which was well told.
The group Elle falls in with at her new school are all misfits in some way, be they gay or straight. The Bobs really amused me. Boyfriends with the same name, they don't have anywhere to make out (and more) and immediately pounce on Elle's home situation in a very funny way. But it was Wilbur who I wanted to learn a lot more about.Read more ›
Elle is actually happy to move into her own place, even if the reason is that her mother's current boyfriend doesn't want to deal with a teenager. Her mother always wanted Elle to fit into a certain mold - wear the "right" clothes and have the "right" friends. That's just not Elle.
Elle's neighbors include a young couple, Frank and Molly. Frank immediately offers to help with whatever Elle needs. His eagerness to help and his calm, gentle manner make him instantly attractive to Elle. She is soon chatting with him and heading to the couple's apartment for homemade chicken noodle soup. Elle doesn't like to admit it out loud, but she has a crush on Frank.
Starting in a new school on the first day of the year has its challenges, but when Elle impulsively decides to cut her hair the night before that first day, she takes a risk she later regrets. The day has hardly begun when Elle discovers the word "Queer" painted down the entire length of her locker. She is furious and humiliated but pleasantly surprised when a girl named Shane offers her the needed supplies to remove the offending word.
With Shane's help, Elle makes friends with a group of misfits. At least she now has a table to eat at in the cafeteria, and she quickly finds that the group wants to include her in all their activities. They make her feel less lonely, and at a party they convince her to have at her apartment, they meet Frank.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
I'm sort of winding my way through some books featuring trans characters, just to get an idea of what's out there and how writers are portraying transgender people and situations. Jumpstart the World did a phenomenal job of having a non-activist trans character, who was not the protagonist, be present to demonstrate that trans people are just people, like the rest of us - but also the author managed to show in simple but clear ways some of the frightening things about being trans. The fear of friends leaving, the fear of being helpless. And all of this without direct trans character POV, all of this without the sense of the reader being taught to or lectured.
Honestly? Everyone should read this book.
Then she meets Frank and Molly, and a gang of friends at school, who are Different. Or are they? Elle's friendship and interactions with them deftly changes what it means to be beautiful, what it means to be special, and what it means to be true to the person that resides inside.
Catherine Ryan Hyde's style reads is as if we have been given someone's diary and for just a few hours, we are allowed entrance into their secret world. We sit alongside Elle as she rides through the bumps, bruises and highs of her journey. More than that, Ms. Ryan Hyde captures silence like very few writers can. She takes the moments where everything is still, and she lets them just hold.
Because we read a diary, the exposition does not preach like it might in someone else's hands. With Ms. Ryan Hyde, the events, feelings and conclusions simply are. The way everything plays out is the only way it ever could; the way we would expect it to if this indeed was a journal capturing a snapshot of someone else's life.
"Jumpstart the World" is the story you read in a Saturday afternoon, so you can spend all day Sunday mulling over the imagery and the moments that rang true. Then the people and their lives creep into your heart and get absorbed into your lifeblood and stay with you in ways you can't begin to imagine a few thousand words possibly can.
Catherine Ryan Hyde delivers yet another deeply honest and raw rendition of what it means to be alive in our current times; somehow she can pull this off for eighteen books straight and it is always haunting and exquisite to see how the lives intertwine, and how the characters find their own kind of happy ending. Not the fairy tale kind, but the kinds that are around us, waiting to be realized, in the world we can reach out and make our own.
In fiction, as in real life, it is hard to show people that you've changed.
Hyde takes this problem of personal growth head on when she chooses to let Elle narrate her own story. Jumpstart The World has no 3rd person, omniscient narrator to set the story, to fill in the background, to tell us things that we and that Elle might not otherwise know.
As the narrator, Elle is elegant in choosing which people, interactions, and events to describe. Like a puzzle, the people and events fit together tightly. Unlike an ordinary puzzle, people and events change Elle within the story. If puzzles were both static and dynamic, then the picture Elle presents to the reader is that kind of static to changing puzzle.
As the narrator, Elle's style is quick, funny, insightful, yet sometimes awkward, often embarrassed, and sometimes confused. Often she doesn't know what she is about to say; sometimes she over-emphasizes the obvious. While Elle changes as a character in her story, her narrative style does not change. Narrative styles change for different reason and through different experiences: reading, perceived audience, formal and informal training. No reason for the style to change. The story is about Elle the girl not Elle the author.
Mother. Elle begins her story sputtering to and about her mother. Elle rescues a one eyed cat because her mother suggests that she get another cat. Elle names the cat Toto, ironically echoing, that other Toto in that other story where the other audience understands 'there is no place like home'. Elle actually cuts off her nose (here, her hair) to spite her (mother's) face. By the middle of her story, Elle shows she has grown when, instead of cutting up the clothes her mother bought for her birthday, she returns them and buys a camera and camera equipment with the money. Through the story she learns how to use the camera, which shows her the intensity in her own eyes, and eventually decides that this is how she will jump-start the world: she will use a camera to show the world the injustices that she sees, and has seen in the story. By the end of the story, we see that she has also gained a degree of compassion for mother.
Crazy Harry. As Don Quixote duels with windmills, crazy Harry duels with cars and people on the street in front of Elle's apartment. Several pages in the story after we first see Harry, Frank uses the word 'quixotic' in a scrabble game, and has to tell Elle the story of Don Quixote. Unfortunately for Frank, Harry's broom draws real blood later in the story. By the story's end, Elle learns more than to forgive Harry. She takes pictures of Harry, trying to find that perfect image that will show to the world, the hell she sees in Harry's eyes. The puzzle pieces fit together and yet the picture of Elle changes.
Frank. Elle is immediately attracted to Frank. But Elle's crush soon implodes when she is told at her party with her new friends, by her new friends that Frank is transgender.
At first she doesn't want to talk to Frank or see her new friends ever again. But as the story develops and because Frank works in a vet's office, when Toto needs to go to the vet, Elle is forced to ask Frank for help. And when, after the accident, Frank has to go to the hospital, Elle fights for and captures a cab to take Frank to the hospital. She hopes the cab capture will assuage the hurt she had caused Frank, and yet she knows that it never can. Elle stays in the hospital with Frank, because she 'has his back'; and, through the night, she is finally able to say that she loves him: she has forgiven herself for her earlier reactions; she understands some of the injustice Frank suffers.
By the end of this sensitive story, after Elle has used the camera to capture Wilbur's confidence, Frank and Molly's love for each other, the hell in Harry's eyes, we see a positive, even joyful young adult who has made it her life's work to Jump-start the World.