Saturday, September 19, 2009

Review: Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia

Found via: BBYA 2010 nominations

This is a slim little book that has one relentless focus: follow three girls over the course of one school day after one girl inadvertently insults another. Leticia overhears Dominique threaten to beat up Trina after school, after Trina accidentally bumps her in the hallway before school. That's the entire set up, and what follows in an increasingly tense school day, as Dominique obsesses over a long list of slights that have led her to the point where beating up another girl seems like a reasonable response, Trina is oblivious and goes through the day as her (almost annoyingly) bubbly self, and Leticia wavers endlessly over whether she should warn Trina or just mind her own business.

All three girls are written realistically with distinct voices - the chapters alternate between their first person accounts and I never had a moment where I needed to flip to the beginning of the chapter to figure out who was narrating now. The review from Booklist on Amazon accuses Trina of being simplified with her "relentless snobbery," but I had a totally different read on her: yes, she's a bit stuck up and full of herself, but how often do we get to read about a young woman who has complete confidence in herself? Trina never wonders if people are judging her for her weight, her skin, her hair - she knows she's fabulous and thinks everyone else agrees with her assessment! We know Dominique clearly disagrees, and it's pretty clear Leticia thinks she's stuck up as well and doesn't think anyone else likes her, either, but since we have three first person narrators it's impossible to get an objective stance on where Trina really stands in the eyes of the student body. I thought it was a great addition to her character.
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