Sunday, January 17, 2010
Rgz Salon: Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia, Reviewed by Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Rgz SALON member Lyn Miller-Lachmann is the Editor-in-Chief of MultiCultural Review; the author of the award-winning multicultural bibliography Our Family, Our Friends, Our World; the editor of Once Upon a Cuento, a collection of short stories by Latino authors; and most recently, the author of Gringolandia, a young adult novel about a refugee family living with the aftermath of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. (Read the fascinating Cover Story for Gringolandia.)
We're honored to have her here as part of the rgz SALON, a feature where four of the top kidlit experts clue us in to the best YA novels they've read recently. Today, Lyn reviews Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia (HarperCollins, 2009), a nominee for the 2009 National Book Award!
"You're driving on the interstate, and traffic comes to a dead stop. Police cars whiz past on the left shoulder, followed by a fire truck and four ambulances. Some people ease from the right lane onto the shoulder and roll toward the off-ramp a quarter mile up the road. Do you get off the highway and detour around what appears to be a horrific accident? Or do you stay where you are, hoping to get a glimpse of the carnage?
"If you stay on the highway, Jumped is for you. Williams-Garcia foreshadows the ending in the first chapter. Sophomore Leticia Moore, at school early for extra help in geometry, sees cute Trina cut between basketball player Dominique Duncan and 'Nique's crew. She hears Dominique pledge to jump Trina after school and calls her best friend at work to tell her the juicy news.
Attractive, artistic Trina is so vain and self-absorbed that she doesn't see the threat. She is new to the school and doesn't perceive the inappropriateness of her behavior. Along the way to her fateful encounter, she flirts with the assistant principal and breaks into the Boosters' lunchtime rehearsal. Dominique is a powder keg about to explode-benched from the team because of a low grade, she hounds both the teacher who gave her the grade and the coach.
"In vivid and precise detail and in three very distinct voices, Williams-Garcia depicts Leticia, Trina, and Dominique going through a day at a large, diverse urban high school. Leticia's friend's increasingly urgent text messages to “tell someone” alternate with portraits of a noisy, overcrowded school and apathetic teachers and staff. When Leticia breaks a nail in gym class, nobody cares; even her mother refuses to speak to her. With her best friend off campus in a work-study program, Leticia's sole companion is her cell phone, which she has named Celina.
"The girl-on-girl violence at the center of Jumped thrives because nobody cares--neither the bored, alienated teenagers nor the burned-out adults. The angry, violent perpetrator (about whose home life we learn nothing) and the clueless victim are on a collision course. The characters--with the exception of Leticia's best friend and a boy in Trina's art class-are not likable but they are understandable. Readers might claim that Leticia, Trina, and Dominique are “not like me” (what teenage girl really goes around believing she looks absolutely perfect and is beautifying the school by her very presence?) but their stories are real and gripping, and they will make readers think. Within at least one of these characterizations is a piece of every teenage girl--or former teenage girl--irrespective of class, race, or ethnicity. There is much food for discussion in this horrific car-wreck of an encounter involving a Bully, a Victim--and a Bystander who not only lets it happen but also relishes the view."
How intriguing does that sound? Thanks, Lyn!