I’m going to try to do this without spoilers…

Jumped, by Rita Williams-Garcia
Jumped, by Rita Williams-Garcia

Early one morning in zero period before regular classes begin, Leticia overhears Dominique, a big basketball-playing “boy girl” say she’s going to “get” Trina that day at 2:45.

On the surface the story is about Leticia’s moral decision: should she “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved” like the James Brown song played on the school loudspeakers? Should she warn Trina, who has no idea that she’s going to get pounded? Or maybe she should just stay out of it?

Chapters alternate, with each girl narrating the rest of the school-day in her own words. As they talk about themselves, the reader begins to see gaps between how each girl thinks of herself and how others see her. Basically, Trina and Dominique are both telling themselves stories about who they are and what their place is in the school/world. Dominique, especially, is constrained by her story. To others, her actions seem extreme and arbitrary. But to her, her actions are inevitable: she has no indecision, and she has no regret, because her self-story doesn’t allow any other possible outcome.

Letting each girl have her own say on the page helped me to make my own judgments about their actions. Characters I liked the first time they appeared, I liked less by the end. Characters I didn’t like, at least I understood. The ending was different than I was expecting (sitting on my hands now – I promised no spoilers!) but, I think, satisfying.

Williams-Garcia was a new author to me, but I think now I am going to check out her Like Sisters on the Homefront or No Laughter Here. Thanks to Doret & Carleen for hooking me up with a new author. As per the terms of the bargain, I have now passed my copy to another reader.