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Jumping Off Swings
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book about unplanned pregnancy has frank talk about sex and relationship issues among teens. The main character sleeps with many boys and one "hook-up" results in pregnancy. There is some swearing (including "f--k"), copious drinking (adult alcoholism and teen drinking), and discussions of abortion and unplanned pregnancies. Parents and teachers can use this book to start discussions with teens about sex and relationships. It will give readers a lot to think about, including what teens are looking for when they enter sexual relationships, and the different ways sexual rumors impact male and female reputations.
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What's the story?
Ellie keeps getting played by the guys she has sex with, including Josh. Hoping for a romantic relationship, she thinks each experience will be different and each time they use her. When Ellie finds out she's pregnant after her and Josh's "one time thing," her life changes and so does the lives of those around her, including Corinne, her best friend, Caleb, who's had a crush on her for years, and Josh. What is she going to do? What can she do?
Is it any good?
Jo Knowles makes a common story more interesting by presenting it from four different perspectives: Ellie's, Josh's, Josh's friend Caleb's, and Ellie's best friend Corinne's. That gives layers, texture, and depth to what would have been a basic sex-and-teens novel. The characters all possess a vulnerability that rings true, and that readers will relate to.
The novel moves swiftly, making it a good choice for reluctant readers. And because there are consequences for actions, it's a great book to start discussions with teens about sex and relationships.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about books and other media about teen pregnancy. How is this one different? Did you find Ellie's attitude about sex to be realistic? What about her supportive friends?
After they have sex, Josh is celebrated by their peers while Ellie ends up with a bad reputation. Does that seem like something that would happen at your high school?
For kids who love dramas and coming-of-age tales
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.