I am half way through the fourth of the five National Book Nominees and thus I feel entitled to say that Jumped is far and away my least favorite.
Not only do I think this book is the worst of the nominees, I think it’s flat out lousy, compared to a far wider range of books. It makes me crazy that this book was picked for the shortlist when so so so so so many excellent books didn’t make it on this list.
Was I clear enough about my feelings towards this book? As my mom would say, “You really need to learn not to be so wishy-washy.”
The book is quite short (hallelujah!) and is told from the point of view of three different girls at an urban high school over the course of a few hours.
One of the girls, Trina, is an artist who is absolutely convinced she is the most envied and beautiful girl in school (based on the other characters voices, it seems that this is all in her head). Another, Dominique, is a basketball player who doesn’t mind getting rough on and off the court when necessary, including threatening a teacher who gave her a grade that’s keeping her from playing. She is accidentally cut off in the hallway by Trina and determines that she’ll jump her after school and teach her a lesson. The third voice is Leticia who saw the whole thing happen and knows that Trina is going to get jumped, but hesitates to say anything, despite the urgings of her best friend, not wanting to get involved and second guessing what she heard.
These three characters were impossible for me to keep straight. Also, I deeply disliked every one of them.
I read this on the airplane, and when Leticia breaks a nail in gym and throws an absolute fit, first storming into the principal’s office to demand the school pay for it and when he dismisses her concerns, she calls her parents to insist they SUE the school, it was all I could do to keep from audibly groaning with disgust.
I am crossing my fingers hard that this book doesn’t win the award, because I would just die from the disappointment.
I’m sure there will be some people who will love it, but I am so obviously not one of them.