Title: Jumpstart the World
Author: Catherine Hyde Ryan
Publication Year: 2011
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Source: E-book purchased from the Apple store
From the cover:
Elle is a loner. She doesn’t need people. Which is a good thing, because now she has to move out of her apartment so her mother’s boyfriend won’t have to deal with her.
Then she meets Frank, the guy who lives next door to her new place. Being with him is impossible: he’s a grown-up and has a girlfriend. Still, Elle can’t stop thinking about him. Frank isn’t like anyone Elle has ever met. He listens to her. He’s gentle. And Elle is falling for him, hard.
Then Elle discovers that Frank is different in a way that Elle was never prepared for: he’s transgender. Elle’s head and her heart explode; her world is turned upside down. But when an accident nearly takes Frank’s life, Elle must search inside herself to find not only the true meaning of friendship but her own role in jumpstarting the world.
I’d heard a lot of good things about this book before I picked it up for the Literary Others reading event. Somehow, though, I’d never managed to pick it up until last fall.
What I really enjoyed the most about this book was that it touched on so many issues that are important for youth today: being alone, friendship, attraction, growing up. It wasn’t just about the sexual identity of one of the main characters and how the others dealt with it. It was also simply about how to navigate the complicated real world of growing up.
I loved that Frank was a great mentor figure for Elle in the story. In so many young adult books about queer characters, there’s a “bad influence” situation going on. Even when it’s less explicit, as it has been in recent years (unlike the dramatic “bad-ness” of being queer in earlier books like I’ll Get There. It Better Be Worth the Trip.), there’s often an undertone of something unsavoury in books that have queer characters. And while Jumpstart the World still has a tiny bit of a very standard trope near the end, the rest of the book is really quite different. Frank is a strong character with healthy relationships to those around him, and he’s presented in the book as being of great moral character, someone who can be relied upon.
Definitely don’t wait as long as I did. Pick up this book when you get a chance.