Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Jumped, written by Rita Williams-Garcia. Harper, 2009. $9.99 ages 12 and up
In three powerful, poignant and incredibly distinct voices, Rita Williams-Garcia tells of one day in an urban high school...how it begins, how it goes forward, and how it tragically ends.
Leticia is a gossip girl. She has escaped a make-up math class in hopes of meeting up with friends prior to the first bell of this school day. She is in the right place at the right time to see Dominique threaten to beat another girl at the end of the day, for cutting her off in the hallway. For Dominique it is the final straw in a series of bad breaks. Trina, a valley girl with self-confidence oozing from her pores, is totally unaware of the alleged transgression and hears nothing of the threat. It doesn't take long for Leticia to get on the phone with her best friend and spread the news.
The author moves back and forth in the three voices to give the reader context for the events as they play out. The strength of each voice keeps the drama intense and offers a 'can't stop reading' ride, through to the final page.
Dominique is so frustrated and angry:
"I'm just a baller. A guard. A floor general running the show. Making plays happen on the court. That's from having eyes on the court; seeing where to be; beating the ball for the steal; reading the D; getting the ball in the hot hands, the open hands; charging into the paint or taking a charge; shooting from the high post."
All of that basketball gone because of failing grades, a teacher who will not listen to her complaints and a coach who will not bend the rules about keeping her grades up. She is benched. Basketball is what makes her who she is and is the only thing she loves to do.
Trina is oblivious to the world, except for her impact on it. She is an artist, a flirt and has no idea that she even crossed paths with Dominique in early morning:
"In case you're wondering, that's not conceit. It's just fact. It's like when you see a Picasso - those colors, those shapes, those crazy mixes - and you hear the music in the paintings, you can't help but say, "That's dope." When people see me, they see walking art. They pause because the hair is bouncing, the light brown eyes are twinkling without trying, the skin is caramel and creme, the galletas are shaking, the body's untouchable tight. What? They can't help but stare or step up."
Leticia spends wondering what she should do. Her friend says she should tell Trina, her gut tells her that maybe Trina will get what she deserves. It is positively frightening to think what might happen at the end of the day...and how lives will change:
"Can you believe my luck? I sneak outside to skim dirt, and dirt finds me before I'm down the stairs. It's all too good to waste. Every second counts. The bell will ring in five minutes. I fold the bathroom pass down to a padded wad and jam it on the inside of the door lock. I step outside the building where the reception is good and hit 3, Bea's number on Celina's speed dial."
Powerful and worthy of a read in any middle grade and high school classroom. There is much to discuss here!