Jumpstart the World
by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Publication Date: October 12, 2010
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Source: Won from Random Buzzers
Elle is a loner. She doesn’t need people. Which is a good thing, because she’s on her own: she had to move into her own apartment so her mother’s boyfriend won’t have to deal with her.
Then she meets Frank, the guy who lives next door. He’s older and has a girlfriend, but Elle can’t stop thinking about him. Frank isn’t like anyone Elle has ever met. He listens to her. He’s gentle. And Elle is falling for him, hard.
But Frank is different in a way that Elle was never prepared for: he’s transgender. And when Elle learns the truth, her world is turned upside down. Now she’ll have to search inside herself to find not only the true meaning of friendship but her own role in jumpstarting the world.
I received a copy of Jumpstart the World from Random Buzzers. I had not heard of it before seeing it there, but after reading the summary, I was intrigued and entered to win a copy. And I did!
Jumpstart the World begins with Elle and her mother choosing a cat from the animal shelter which sixteen year old Elle will take to her apartment where Elle will be living. Alone. Not too much back story is given about why Elle is moving out or about the dynamics of her relationship with her mother. Unfortunately this is where the story begins to fall apart for me (at the very beginning). As Elle is moving into her apartment, she meets her neighbor, Frank, and she immediately has a fondness for him. He has agreed to look after Elle in her mother's absence.
During this time, Elle has also started at a new school and was immediately labeled as queer because, in a fit of defiance toward her mother, she shaved her hair off. She taken aback, defensive and insistent that her new friends know that she is not gay. So when her friends think that the person she has a crush on, Frank, is transgendered, Elle immediately disassociates herself from them and begins to pull back from Frank. She then begins to question her own sexuality as she learns about Frank's.
I really wanted to like this book. The subject of questioning and understanding sexuality is timely, but there weren't a lot of descriptive connections between Elle and the people in her life. Hyde did a lot more telling than describing, and the story felt a little underdeveloped. I wanted to feel what Elle was going through and have my heartbroken as she did, but I didn't. One relationship that I hope is developed in a future work is that of Elle and Wilbur. I could tell that he really cared about Elle as she was dealing with her mom and learning about herself. I want to know more about him and his back story.
Other books with similar subject matter, that I would recommend are Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher and Luna by Julie Anne Peters.