Schuyler Esperanza's Reviews > Jumpstart the World

Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde
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's review
Jun 18, 2011

it was amazing

I could say this book is an important contribution to the LGBTQ reading community, and it is--but that would be selling the book far too short. Jumpstart the World is indeed an important tale, but it's a grace to many groups: to those of us who have experienced unrequited love, to those of us who ache to belong but are not "mainstream," to we who continually make mistakes but have a strong and gentle heart. In short, this book is for everybody. It would melt the heart of the most hardened homophobic/transphobic person alive, if only they would open the pages and read Elle's story. This book heals.

Elle is an abandoned teen, and searching for approval so hard it hurts. She seems to want this attention from a certain type of person; instead, she finds offers of friendship from a misfit group of kids, some of whom are openly gay. This disquiets Elle on many levels. She falls in love with Frank, her neighbor, who is also a type of misfit, which pains Elle as well. Learning about her new friends, and who they love, is a difficult part of Elle's journey.

Jumpstart is told in simple, plain prose, and somehow that makes every revelation Elle experiences more visceral. Sometimes Elle's thoughts aren't pretty, and this is addressed in spare language. Sometimes what happens is so beautiful, the straightforward words are like fists to the gut, causing a sharp intake and holding of breath--a resonance so deep you want to hold it forever. Both the ugly and the beautiful are here, existing side by side, and that is how this book tastes like truth.

When I finished Jumpstart the World, I wanted to buy truckloads of it and stand on street corners, handing the book to strangers. There's so much power in this slim novel--power to change. It's a miracle of a read, and if there's one thing this story can do, it's take closed minds and open them wide and bare. It's a book to jumpstart the healing.
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