Sunday, May 24, 2009

Jumped Continued

While the characters are flawed, I understand why Dominique is who she is. She is the product of suffocating circumstances and her self-fulfilling prophecy of a remaining imprisoned in mind and body is authentic here. Trina, while flighty doesn’t deserve the beating and therefore I feel for her despite her failings. Leticia, is no monster but she is the character I honestly do not like, not because she is spoiled and self-centered, I understand that. But I could not relate to her complete disregard for the victim or victims in general. If she had expressed any remorse or sympathy at the time of actual beating I could have empathized, but even when the ambulance pulls up, the entire episode has simply been a really good show for Leticia. I was depressed and angry for what she represents in the story.

In closing, let me share a little about how I approached this novel and all the YA fiction I read. I am an adult, a parent of a twenty-four year old and a fourteen year old. I majored in English in school. I volunteer at an at-risk agency for girls. I run the library. I personally know girls who have jumped other girls and those who have been jumped. I know a Dominique, a Trina and Leticia. Reading this replays a reality I intimately know.

In college, the critique approach I gravitated towards was cultural criticism. I am most interested in social critique. It informs how I read today. My perspective has a clear slant: I have internal radar for literary devices and social commentary. My reviews are based on my filters. What I actually put on our shelves and how I describe titles to my community of readers are two linked but distinctly different approaches. Most of my reviews here are written based on how I see a read as an adult. What I share with my girls are the points I think interest them based on my experiences as a parent and mentor. It took me a while to realize that it is better for my girls and me if I can acknowledge both approaches to a work. In this way, I don’t have to disregard what I experience nor do I feel obligated to make assessments and selections based only on my standards and filters. For example, for those who remember my review of The Making of Dr. Truelove I openly expressed my issues with it. I also said I was going to give it to my daughter. I did and she loved it. It will be on our shelves.

When I told my daughter about Jumped, I was completely animated, quoting all the smart dialogue and infusing my descriptions with drama and attitude. My daughter gobbled it up. I think it’s important to acknowledge our filters and to use those filters, perceptions as jumping off points for meaningful discussion. Where our perceptions differ, I think there is greater opportunity to consider another person’s point-of-view. I think it is an opportunity to ask questions, to encourage students to revisit what they perceive and to ask them do they see more, see layers. When my daughter finishes Jumped, I’ll let you know what she thinks.

I'm a huge Williams Garcia fan. I've read and enjoyed No Laughter Here, Every Time A Rainbow Dies and Like Sisters On The Homefront.


tanita davis said...

Wow, you really reviewed this thoroughly. Often I fail to be quite as specific, because I realize I'm not the audience, so I feel like some of what I think isn't important, but I feel like this is really balanced and look forward to your daughter's take.

Ali said...

I read YA books in a similar way, I think. Yes, YA should appeal to teens, and I won't recommend it to teens if I don't think they'll like it. But quality YA should also appeal to discerning adult readers who enjoy this stuff. If it doesn't, there's probably something missing in the voice or the character development.

I'd love to hear you talking up this book to your girl or other teens, and see the contrast between that and the way you write.

susan said...

Tanita, I think this is my most thorough to date. I didn't realize I had so much to say until I started writing.

Ali, maybe I'll write two reviews on one book based on my audience.

Right now, I'm trying to improve our space here and feeling a bit worn out. It's taken me a long time to figure out what to focus on and to become more consistent. The problem is I don't have more time. ((sigh))

Thank you both for reading and commenting.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed that when I became a librarian, I became very liberal in my approach towards what others read. I think we share that: we want others to enjoy what they read as much as we enjoy what we've found.
Jumped is sitting in my summer pile and I hope to read it. . . soon! You should also read Williams-Garcia Fast Talk on a Slow Road, too!