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Jumpstart the World: 01/12/15

cover art

Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde is a YA about a teen, Elle, living on her own because her mother's boyfriend doesn't want her at home. She's taken under the wing of her neighbors, Frank and Molly. She eventually learns (after developing a crush on Frank) that's he's transgender. And (as these transgender themed books usually seem to go), her life is turned upside down.

Honestly, the the bigger issue here is a teenager being forced out of her home by an abusive boyfriend, and a mother not being able to see that. Elle is forced to do a lot of growing up just so she can survive on her own while still managing to stay in school.

Then there's all too perfect, crush-worthy Frank. Elle perceives him as gentle, caring and willing to listen. These attributes have nothing to do with Frank being trans. No, these are signs that Frank, unlike her messed up mother and would-be step-father, is a normal, caring, well-adjusted human being.

As seems required by these sorts of books, Elle myst go through a chapter or three of freak out. Does her crush signify something about her sexuality or gender that she's not been previously aware of? For a kid living on her own, I doubt she'd really have the time or energy to spend on this level of a freak out. But having Elle just roll with it, I guess, would have been too dull.


Four stars

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