Posted by: jeannineatkins | September 22, 2009

What I’m Reading: Jumping Off Swings

Jumping off Swings by Jo Knowles (Candlewick, Sept 2009) shows the drama of an unplanned pregnancy and how it affects a variety of friends. The novel feels true to teen life, with its sometimes awkwardness, brutal inattention, sloppy mistakes, kindness, tenderness, and longing.
I admired how deftly and deeply the four points of view were handled. The characters do things that are wise and not so much, but they’re all rounded; no one slides into extremes of good or evil.

Reading, I both wanted to keep turning pages and to take time to ponder, and this is the kind of book which offers readers both the need to find out what happens and to reflect. It made me think about lucky friends and family who will read this together and talk.

There’s nothing much better than loving a book written by someone you love. Years ago, Jo jbknowles read eight manuscript pages from this in the basement of the Hatfield, Mass. Library where two long tables were pushed together, and we sat on folding chairs around. The rattly humidifier was turned off, but still I leaned in to catch the soft voice. Which wavered, but just a bit. Jo kept on. We all were pretty sure she would keep on. And of course she did. Continuing to knock people out – in the best, gentlest ways.



  1. I’m looking forward to reading this one, too. It’s so wonderful you having the memory of hearing Jo read pages from the manuscript way back when. I’m very glad Jo kept on.

  2. Feeling speechless.
    Thanks so much, Jeannine!

  3. I’m so much looking forward to reading this — and now, even more so. Thank you for the lovely picture of Jo at its beginning.

  4. I’m a little addicted to hearing stories or reading manuscripts that haven’t yet become books; then when they do get in covers — and it always takes too long — what a thrill!

  5. I wish it hadn’t taken so long from those days of first readings to getting between beautiful covers, but it’s been great knowing you through those years. xo

  6. I think you’ll like the teens in here who are both ordinary and heroic.
    You can imagine all the rejoicing around here when Jo got her first book contract. Sweetness and strong patience and talent rewarded.

  7. Sounds terrific! I just put this one on reserve at my library–thanks for the recommendation.

  8. Jo has told me of moms and teen daughters reading it and discussing, which sounds so perfect.
    BTW, let me know if you’d like an extra copy of Book Links with Stampede on the cover. If you send me your address at jeanatkins at aol dot com I’ll send it along. That’s so cool!

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