It's not often that we want to reach into a book and shake some sense into its characters, but that's how we feel about the narrators in Jumped. At the beginning of the novel, we see a relatively innocent interaction that escalates into a brutal beating by the end of the day. Told from the alternating perspectives of the victim, the aggressor, and the witness, Jumped explores the choices teenagers make and the effects of these choices.
Spoiler alert: They don't lead to a happy ending.
Rita Williams-Garcia's 2009 book is a study in how violent behavior escalates and where the climbing tension can be interrupted. Unfortunately, the potential for violence isn't derailed for Dominique and Trina, the aggressor and the victim, and Leticia, the witness, never feels the need to step forward and do her part to stop it. Through revealing the devastating effects of inaction, though, the novel will hopefully inspire readers to dig deep and honestly consider how they might react in each of the leading ladies' positions.
People have jumped all over Jumped, but in a good way. It was a National Book Award Finalist in 2009, and the reviews from some pretty fancy publications (like Booklist and School Library Journal) rave about the novel and its gritty realism. Williams-Garcia may not be in high school herself, but she's managed to create authentic and complex voices, splaying high school in all its complicated and messy reality across the pages for readers of all ages to enjoy.
Look up "girl fights" on the Internet, and way too many videos pop up in the results. Fights at school, fights on the street, fights at concerts, fights at parties. Go to any major newspaper's website, and count how many articles are about violence. It's just a hunch, but we're guessing that depending on the day, you might run out of fingers and find yourself counting on your toes, too. And the thing is, this violence isn't just the domain of adults—kids and teens are getting in on this terrible action also.
Rita Williams-Garcia's Jumped offers insight into how a situation in school can escalate into violence. And—spoiler alert—it ain't pretty: Dominique ends up in prison and Trina suffers serious physical injuries, including head trauma. It's a true-to-life novel that pulls no punches (pun intended) and hangs out in territory far too common in our real world.
Most importantly, though, the novel sparks a conversation about a topic that is difficult to address in a meaningful way, without the barriers that can exist between adults and students. Jumped articulates the pressures students face, including the risks and benefits associated with snitching, the dangers of kids becoming invisible in school, and how the smallest events can contribute to the rise in violence. And given just how many videos turn up if you google "school fights," well, this is pretty relevant information in this day and age.
A Window into Rita
Williams-Garcia is more like Dominique than you might think; at least, she says she is.
From Her Own Perspective
Rita Williams-Garcia's website gives an awful lot of insight into her books and her passions.
But It Plays Like a Movie in My Head
There's no movie for Jumped, so instead, check out Girl Fight, a made-for-television movie on Lifetime.
Rita Williams-Garcia explains how characters take on lives of their own when she writes.
Violence as… Entertainment?
Check out how YouTube tries to prevent society from seeing girl fights as fun.
It's Not Just Fiction
Girl-on-girl violence is a real problem in schools.
What's in a Name?
In saying each character's name, Rita gives Jeff Rivera a whole lot of info about the players.
The Dangers of Desensitization
CBS news reports that girl-on-girl violence is on the rise… and online.
One Book, Three Different Voices
Literally. The audio book has three distinct actors voice the three main characters.
Here's an Ear Worm for Ya
Listen to why James Brown keeps playing on repeat in Leticia's head.
It's All About the Angle
The cover is angled for a reason, showing the doors to the site of the attack.
All Dressed Up
Rita Williams-Garcia attends the NAACP Image Awards in 2011.