Jumped In by Patrick Flores-Scott (website | facebook)
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: gangs, disappearing teenager, abandonment, poetry, male POV
Format Read: ARC received at TLA from publisher (Thank you!)
Summary: Sam and Luis are two very unlikely friends. They don’t speak or look one another’s way until their English teacher, Miss Cassidy, begins forcing them to in her class. Eventually the two pair up to write a poetry piece for the poetry slam that will end their unit.
Jumped In is a fast, quick-moving story that was extremely touching and heart-warming. Two boys, both disinterested in school for very different reasons, are pushed by their English teacher, Miss Cassidy, to engage and participate in her class. She intentionally pinpoints Sam and Luis each class, waiting for them to answer and making sure they know the material. Sam’s just trying to get by, unnoticed, because he feels worthless and abandoned after his mother left him several years before. He has no friends and tries to be a wallflower. Luis is an exceptionally bright student, but his father and brother have set a pattern in motion he’s expected to follow: join a gang. How can he uphold his bad-boy reputation if he shows how much he really cares about school?
As they begin a poetry unit, Miss Cassidy announces that their final project will be to read their poetry aloud in a poetry slam. Sam and Luis pair up and begin working on something they hope will unexpectedly blow the class away. While the majority of the story is told from Sam’s perspective, we see bits of Luis blended in via the poetry he writes (but doesn’t share it with anyone). As the boys prepare for the poetry slam, they decide to allow more of themselves to filter into the piece they’re writing together.
But one day, Luis disappears. Sam goes on a hunt for him — searching everywhere he can think of to find out what happened to Luis. Is he okay? Was he pulled into some kind of gang-related activity? Is he alive?
Ultimately, Jumped In is one of those kinds of books that makes you feel warm and fuzzy when you’ve read the final pages. (Which seems like such a contradiction to the subject matter and stories the boys tell throughout the book.) It reminds me of the many, many movies I would watch with my mom, a former teacher, about how the teacher completely turned a group of ill-fated students around. (Sister Act 2, anyone?)
Jumped In hasn’t received nearly the recognition it should in the blogosphere. If you’re looking for something quick to read, but with a more serious undertone, definitely check it out.