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Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Jumpstart the World

by Catherine Ryan Hyde

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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.

Sigh. ( )
  pussreboots | Jan 12, 2015 |
Loved this novel about a 16 year old living in her own apartment in New York after her mother dropped her there to be with her boyfriend. In JumpStart the World, Elle makes friends with her next door neighbors who aren't as ordinary as they seem. She struggles with friendships and coming into her own sense of self. It was a great read, and I would definitely recommend it to high schoolers. ( )
  Trock33 | Sep 11, 2014 |
Hands down the best YA book with trans/genderqueer characters I've read, which is not to say perfect by any means but politically and emotionally smart. Okay! ( )
  anderlawlor | Apr 9, 2013 |
A good book to add to LGBT collections. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
This review first appeared on my website: http://joannaceleste.com/book-reviews/fiction/jumpstart-the-world-by-catherine-r...

"Jumpstart the World" by Catherine Ryan Hyde, Alfred A Knopf (2010) 186 pages, $7.99, ISBN 978037596665. (Also available in paperback and ebook format).


Elle is a girl who doesn’t belong anyplace–not even in her own home, after her mother sends her packing to accommodate her latest boyfriend. Elle finds herself thrust into a new apartment, facing the prospect of a new school, and she’s alone. But she’s used to being alone.

Then she meets Frank and Molly, and a gang of friends at school, who are Different. Or are they? Elle’s friendship and interactions with them deftly changes what it means to be beautiful, what it means to be special, and what it means to be true to the person that resides inside.

Catherine Ryan Hyde’s style reads is as if we have been given someone’s diary and, for just a few hours, we are allowed entrance into their secret world. We sit alongside Elle as she rides through the bumps, bruises and highs of her journey. More than that, Ms. Ryan Hyde captures silence like very few writers can. She takes the moments where everything is still, and she lets them just hold.

Because we read a diary, the exposition does not preach like it might in someone else’s hands. With Ms. Ryan Hyde, the events, feelings and conclusions simply are. The way everything plays out is the only way it ever could; the way we would expect it to if this indeed was a journal capturing a snapshot of someone else’s life.

"Jumpstart the World" is the story you read in a Saturday afternoon, so you can spend all day Sunday mulling over the imagery and the moments that rang true. Then the people and their lives creep into your heart and get absorbed into your lifeblood and stay with you in ways you can’t begin to imagine a few thousand words possibly can.

Catherine Ryan Hyde delivers yet another deeply honest and raw rendition of what it means to be alive in our current times; it is haunting and exquisite to see how the lives of the characters intertwine, and how they find their own kind of happy ending. Not the fairy tale kind, but the kinds that are around us, waiting to be realized, in the world we can reach out and make our own. ( )
  Joanna_Celeste | Dec 10, 2012 |
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Sixteen-year-old Elle falls in love with Frank, the neighbor who helps her adjust to being on her own in a big city, but learning that he is transgendered turns her world upside-down.

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