Elle is a loner. She doesn't need people. Which is a good thing, because she's on her own: she had to move into her own apartment so her mother's boyfriend wouldn't have to deal with her.
Then she meets Frank, the guy who lives next door. He's older and has a girlfriend, but 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.
But Frank is different in a way that Elle was never prepared for: he's transgender. And when Elle learns the truth, her world is turned upside down. Now she'll have to search inside herself to find not only the true meaning of friendship but her own role in jumpstarting the world.
Tender, honest, and compassionate, Jumpstart the World is a stunning story to make you laugh, cry, and honor the power of love.
Title: Jumpstart the World
Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Publication Date: October 12, 2010
Source: Received from publicist courtesy of Catherine Ryan Hyde, and Kari from Teen Book Scene. Many thanks goes to Catherine, Knopf, and Kari for sending me this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. This review (and giveaway) is part of the official Jumpstart the World blog tour.
My rating: 4/5
Jumpstart the World starts out with Elle moving into an apartment, away from her mother and her mother's new boyfriend. Alone in a new place, and starting at a new school, Elle feels displaced. She forms a friendship with her new neighbour, Frank, and also learns that she has feelings for him, regardless of his age, or the fact that he is in a committed relationship. When Elle learns that Frank is transgender she is thrown for a loop. She needs to come to terms with her feelings about him, while she is questioning her own identity as well.
Elle is rash and impulsive. She starts out on the wrong foot at school when she shows up with her hair cut drastically short. Things end up spiraling further down when she realizes that someone has tagged her locker with a demeaning label. She makes some friends at school, but has reservations as she doesn't want others to think that she is a lesbian. She is confused and questioning herself, feeling secure in the knowledge that she likes a man, so she must not be gay. That is, until she finds out about Frank. Elle is quite tolerant of those who are GLBT, but she doesn't know what to make of Frank's revelation because of how she feels about him. She is a strong character though, and is so believable. I could fully understand her thought process, and loved how her feelings were portrayed to the reader.
Her friends were all exceptional as well, and I loved their inclusion in the story. I especially have a soft spot for her friend, Wilbur. He is such a stoic character, and yet, he is hurting too. He is a steady shoulder for Elle, and is there when she needs him. I loved how their friendship strengthened throughout the story, but overall, I loved his character. He was a rock for her while she was questioning everything around her, and she in turn helped him as well.
Frank was also exceptional. He's gentle, kind, accepting, and generous. He was just amazing. When you find out he is transgender, you immediately realize, that regardless of what sex he is, be it male or female, he is still himself. He isn't defined by his sexual orientation, he is defined by who he is as a person. He is one of those characters that you just seem to fall in love with bit by bit as the story progresses. He truly is a great friend for Elle, and I loved how their friendship fluctuated and diversified with everything that happened.
One part that I really took to heart while reading Jumpstart the World, was when Elle reveals why she takes pictures. She says,
"I'm trying to remind the world to be what it knows it should be." pg. 179
It is a profound statement that I find is quite apropos and is a universal message for all of us.
All in all, this is an excellent portrayal of love, overcoming odds, and finding acceptance. An exceptional and inspiring read with a message for us all. I know I want to jumpstart the world, do you?
Catherine Ryan Hyde has graciously offered up a hardcover copy of Jumpstart the World to one lucky reader.
The contest is open to US/Canada only. Sorry to those of you who are international! :(
Contest ends October 29, 2010.
Please fill out THIS FORM to enter. Comments are appreciated, but they will not count as entries. Thank you. :)