Tuesday, April 27, 2010


"The first time was like this.

I was reading when Dad got home. His voice echoed through the house and I cringed."

Sometimes it's really hard to write a post, because the book is one I love so much that I have a hard time sticking to the topic at hand, and I want to start writing about how great the book in general is. Jumper, by Steven Gould, is one of those books. I identified with Davy Rice, finding comfort in his struggles and triumphs during a very difficult time in my life. It's a book that has a special place in my heart, because of that, along with just a few others, almost all with the same theme of overcoming a difficult past / breaking free of that past to forge a hopeful future.

Davy lives with his alcoholic, abusive father. His mother left years ago, so that Davy is alone in coping with his father's rages.

"I twisted my head slightly, to keep my nose from grinding into the wall, and saw him switch his grip on the belt, so the heavy silver buckle hung on the end, away from his hand.

I yelled. "Not the buckle, Dad! You promised!"

He ground my face into the wall harder. "Shut UP! I didn't hit you near hard enough the last time..." ...the belt swung through the air and my body betrayed me, squirming away from the impact and . . .

I was leaning against bookshelves, my neck free of Dad's crushing grip, my body still braced to receive a blow ... I was in the fiction section of the Stanville Public Library."

And that is how Davy discovers he can teleport. Eventually, he makes his way to New York City, where he discovers that it's almost impossible for a teenager to make an independent life for himself. From the hotel he stays at:

"I carried my suitcase up six flights of stairs to the room and sat on the narrow bed. The room was ratty, with peeling wallpaper and the stench of old cigarette smoke, but the door and the door frame were steel and the lock seemed new."

-- to his efforts to get a job:

'"I don't care how talented, smart, bright, hardworking, or perfect you are. You don't have a high school diploma or a GED and we can't hire you. Next!"

"I'm sorry, but in this state, if you're under eighteen, you must have parental permission to take the GED. If you're under seventeen it takes a court order. You come back with your mother or father, and a birth certificate or New York driver's license and you can take it. Next!"

-- not to mention, how dangerous life can be for a kid in that situation:

"There was something sticky between my cheek and the cold, gritty surface I was lying on. My right knee hurt and there was something about the way I was lying that didn't seem right, like I'd been especially careless in going to bed. I tried to open my eyes but my left seemed stuck shut. The right one looked at a rough concrete surface."

His experience reminds me of of Simon & Garfunkel's The Boxer.

"When I left my home and my family I was no more than a boy,
In the company of strangers,
In the quiet of the railway station, runnin' scared.
Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters,
Where the ragged people go.
Lookin' for the places, only they would know.
The Boxer, Simon & Garfunkel

All this happens early on. By the third chapter Davy is starting to explore his new abilities. He plays tricks on evil-doers, punishing them for their cruelty toward him; he steals a million dollars from a bank vault; and he creates a comfortable life for himself. That's when things get really exciting.

(This was also made into a movie. If you've seen it, it's actually not much like the book. I wasn't so thrilled with it, but then, it was more of an action movie, and it was the psychological elements I liked best in Jumper.)

Book: Jumper, Steven Gould
Music: The Boxer, Simon & Garfunkel

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