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Now, on to the today's review!
This week's book, JUMP WHEN READY by David Pandolfe, was recommended to me by a friend. I'm so happy she gave me the heads up because I absolutely loved this book! First, here's a little more info:
Since he drowned, Henry has remained with the same group of teenagers and he keeps wondering why. After all, what could he possibly have in common with a Mohawk-sporting punker from the 80s, a roller skater from the 70s with a thing for kimonos, and an English "rocker" from the 60s? Add to that, Henry can hear the other groups but he never sees them. Soon, Henry learns that his new friends all possess unique skills for making themselves noticed by the living. Is Henry’s group kept isolated because of their abilities? If so, are they considered gifted or seen only as a potential bad influence?
Before Henry can reach any conclusions, he witnesses his sister being kidnapped. He knows who did it, where she’s being held and what will happen if the kidnappers don’t get what they want. As the police chase false leads, Henry comes to realize that he’s his sister’s only hope. But for Henry to even have a chance, he has to convince a group of teenagers that dead doesn’t mean helpless.
I don't read a lot of "afterlife" books, generally, so this was a bit out of my comfort zone. But I'm so glad I made the jump (Har har. See what I did there?) because JUMP WHEN READY was an engaging, poignant book that stayed with me long after I read the last word.
Henry is a great character with a consistent, realistic teenage voice. At first I had a little trouble keeping his new friends straight, but soon enough their personalities emerged and I loved the interaction between them. The idea of a group of friends from different decades, with different experiences and frames of reference, is really cool, and worked well within the world David created.
The story of Henry's sister's abduction is intense and heart-wrenching. David kept me guessing as to how it would all play out, and I felt Henry's desperation and fear for Bethany right along with him. All of the characters in this book were really well developed, and that included the "bad guys" who kidnapped Bethany as well.
There are difficult topics addressed in this book - suicide, abduction, and the obvious - death - and I think all are handled with sensitivity and respect. Despite the serious themes, the story stays surprisingly upbeat, with an incredibly poignant ending that had me in tears (the good kind!). Seriously. The ending made this book for me. All the pieces were engaging and kept me reading, but the way David tied everything up made me want to go back to the beginning and read it all over again, just to appreciate how it all comes together. When I came to the end, I was happy to have had the experience of following Henry's story and touched by the time I spent in David's world.
I highly recommend this book, and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Now, have a look at what the other Bookanistas are raving about this week!
Carolina Valdez Miller celebrates 17 & GONE by Nova Ren Suma
Lenore Appelhans swoons for STAR CURSED by Jessica Spotswood…with an annotated snippet
Stasia Ward Kehoe is wild for THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky
Tracey Neithercott highlights WHERE THE STARS STILL SHINE by Trish Doller