Sunday, September 29, 2013

Living with Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles

Living with Jackie Chan continues with Josh's story from Jumping off Swings. Jo Knowles said that the reason she wrote this sequel is because so many readers asked her what happened to Josh.

In Jumping off Swings, Josh abandons the girl he had his first sexual encounter with, and then a few months later discovers that he fathered a child with her. The emotional impact of his careless act, coupled with knowing he is now the father of a baby that has since been adopted to another family, sends him into a depression. As a result, Living with Jacking Chan provides the reader with a first-person view of Josh's senior year of high school when he decides he needs to get away from his life and move in with his dorky karate teacher, Jackie Chan movie-loving Uncle Larry.

As I was reading this book I couldn't help but marvel at the way in which Jo Knowles creates such heartfelt characters. Not only is Uncle Larry just overall one of the most stand-up characters ever created, but Knowles also manages to make our baby-mama-abandoning protagonist, Josh, a deeply empathetic character. Go figure.

And that's where Knowles's perspective is unique from a typical yet controversial "teen pregnancy novel." She chose to examine and dig deeper inside the perspective of the teen father.

Even though you can read Living with Jackie Chan without having read Jumping off Swings, I think it makes for a richer reading experience if you read JoS first. There were insights into characters I had from reading the first book that I wouldn't have known without having read them in order. But whatever you decide to do, whether it's to read LwJC first or second, it's worth your time if you're a fan of realistic fiction that tugs at your heartstrings and then tears at it a little.

Living with Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles
Published: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Candlewick
Pages: 384
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Disclosure: ARC received at ALA

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