Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia

I didn’t want to read this book. But I needed it for the theme and I know Williams-Garcia to be a good writer, so I started it, hoping to rush through and hoping that I wouldn’t end up with nightmares.  I was terrified of the violence. Before I started reading, I thought the whole book would be violent. But really, the actual scene where the incident takes place is quite short. While the severity and impact of the violence is made quite clear, the details of the actual event are limited.  Instead of being a violent recounting of a fight, Jumped is a window into the minds of three very different teens. And as it turned out, every time I had to set it down, I was itching to get back to it and find out what was going to happen next.

Jumped chronicles these teens (with a lone chapter by another) as they make their way through a single day.  Early in the morning, Dominique feels that she has been disrespected by Trina.  Trina continues her day blithely ignorant of how Dominique is feeling.  Leticia, who witnessed the interaction, knows what Dominique is planning but doesn’t know that she should get involved.  As the hours tick by, we see Trina continue in her self-absorbed, blissful ignorance.  We learn how Dominque’s mind works and just how necessary she believes her attack to be.  And Leticia remains unsure that she has any responsibility to anyone in the situation.

Somehow, Williams-Garcia is able to write all 3 characters with enough nuance that you don’t write any of them off.  You wait, you consider, you start to understand their perspectives.  This would make an amazing book for teaching or for a book club.  There are a lot of discussions that could arise from the thoughts and actions of these young women.

Just FYI: There is a spoiler for A Separate Peace and also for Of Mice and Men.

Age Recommendation: I would recommend this for high school students. There is both violence and sex in the book and for that reason, many may feel this is best for teens.

Race Considerations: So, skin colors are often described with food words here something that isn’t looked well upon.  Also, one of the characters makes fun of mixed race people who didn’t get what she perceives as the best qualities of their parents.

Sex, Nudity, Dating – A teen mentions breasts.  In fact she mentions her body constantly and how people find it attractive.  It seems like she’s attempting to catch the attention of a female school cop.   A teen is spoken to about her outfit by school staff and she gestures towards her cleavage.  She discusses flirting.  A teen says that someone in her class is trying to get a glimpse of more of her.   A teen things a teacher’s diagram resembles a male’s private parts. Couples date. A teen may or may not have cheated on his girlfriend.  A teacher tells students to “write naked” meaning to write without being self-conscious, without thought, but the male students make stripping jokes. A male licks his lips at a female.  There’s talk about the DNA paternity test drama on daytime talk shows and curiosity about your own paternity. A basketball player hits another on the butt.  Teens dance in a way that shakes their “booties”.  The attractiveness of cheerleaders is discussed.  A teen describes having angry sex outside against the side of a building.  She was mad and wanted an outlet for her anger.  Teens are described as boy-girls for not dressing or acting in a feminine manner.  Other are called lezzies. A teen questions why another has a particular boyfriend saying that he is too attractive for her. She imagines kissing the boyfriend.  There’s a mention of “hootchies” who wear bikinis and hold the cards at boxing matches.  A teen believes that a classmate has drawn dirty pictures of her with him doing sexual acts.  A teen tries to massage his classmates shoulders, usually she would allow this, but she shrugs him off.
Profanity – “oh my God”, “damn”, “shitting”, “bitch”, “dyke”, “hell,” “ass”, “dang”, “bastard”, “flit” which to be fair, I don’t know as a curse but given the context and urban dictionary, I’ll put it down,  “oh shnikies” which appears to be a substitute for shit,
Death, Violence and Gore – Teens casually spar with each other. A teen plans on “jumping” another teen. Evidently, some other teens have previously fought other teens. A book they read in English class involves a story where someone breaks their leg and eventually dies as a result. A basketball player slugs another in the shoulder.  There’s a discussion about how “girls” fight vs. how “boys” fight. Another book they read in English class involves a person killing animals, then another, then being shot to death. A teacher had a prior heart-attack or stroke and has been left with some physical difficulties as a result.  The incident occurred during school hours in front of students.  He was administered CPR.  A teen is thrown to the ground and hit repeatedly.  She bleeds.  Cops need to intervene.  She stops moving and is taken by ambulance.  She is in a coma.  The level of injury is serious and requires surgeries and therapy and will leave the teen with permanent damage.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – None.
Frightening or Intense Things – Homelessness is mentioned.  A student approaches a teacher in a threatening manner and demands a grade be changed.  A teen makes a reference to sweatshop labor.


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