Welcome to my blog about books and the classroom.
A teacher's opinions on YA literature and the state of public education in America.

Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles


                                                                                     Photo courtesy of Jacketflap.com
Jumping Off Swings

Jo Knowles. 2009. Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press. pp. 230. U.S. $16.99
Jo Knowles successfully guides the “teenage pregnancy” plot in the tradition of American realism, so that the threat of cliché dies before it gets off the ground. This high-interest work has the potential to help students to distinguish between elements of Idealism and Realism, as Knowles unapologetically confronts the harsh details and tough calls that these teens are forced to face. She does this while probing the tear-evoking emotions of an unwanted teenage pregnancy and reversing the common misconception that said pregnancies are a plague only in high-risk, low-SES households.
Additionally, this coming-of-age text can lend itself to a discussion on the effects of points of view on the reader, as Jumping Off Swings is written in an omniscient POV, following the thoughts and feelings of Ellie, Corinne, Caleb, and Josh. This prevents the reader from seeing both Ellie and Josh as anything but tragic. Knowles leaves us with the understanding that both kids are merely pawns in a perpetuated cycle of teenage ignorance and parental negligence. But she also leaves us with hope, as all four characters face the consequences of the past in their attempts to move forward.


  1. I am a massive fan of this book, in fact I have bought a copy for the head of student welfare in our local senior school where I live in the UK.

    The book is a great, rapid read, but also enables young people (and older people) to consider their actions, or future actions, and consider consequences.

    The story also speaks to adults, allowing us to consider the actions and reactions of the various adults in the book, and consider which we would choose to model to kids around us.

  2. Lovely review of a wonderful book.

    Good luck with your blog and your fabulous goals. I’ll look forward to reading more here!

  3. I absolutely loved this book, and I’m looking forward to reading more reviews here! 🙂

  4. Loved this book. Great review.

    Best of luck with your new blog!

  5. It’s a great book and a great review!
    Great to see your new blog!

  6. Bravo! Great review of a great book!

    The book, the author—my good friend, Jo—and YOU are many positive things!

  7. Thanks for all these comments! You guys are great!

    I’ll have the interview with Jo posted by tonight or tomorrow, so be sure to check back.

  8. Great review! Keep up the good work!

    Mette Ivie Harrison

  9. Love this book – great review!!

    Welcome to the blogging world. 🙂

  10. great review of a wonderful book. My daughter liked it particularly because it didn’t have the all too common “happy” ending.
    Good luck with your blog.

  11. I, too, appreciate the non-ideal conclusion; but I have to admit, the nearer I got to the end, I kept wishing for a romanticized ending. But reality is heartbreaking, and I’m so glad Jo stayed true to it.

    And thanks for all the good wishes. 😉

  12. Fabulous review of a book I love!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Good work, Risha!

  14. Candice Siler says:

    Wonderful Cause you have here, our kids need people to step outside the lines on their behalf more often!

  15. kami Soto says:

    This is the best book I’ve ever read butevery time in read it, it never fails…. I want more. I can’t figure out why Ellie gave up the baby, I don’t believe that’s what she wanted. I had my two babies at 14 and 15, so I can relate to the struggle and difficult decisions. Ellie would have finally found that unconditional love she needed and known how to gibe it in return…. the book was amazing but I wish a movie would be mad out it or add more to the story.

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