In Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde we meet 16 year old Elle (and her hideous, mean cat Toto) as she moves into her own apartment across the city from where her mother (and boyfriend of the month) lives. Mom and the boyfriend need time alone together, and sarcastic Elle is just in the way. New apartment, new school (public), new hair do (shaved), and no new friends. Except for Frank. Frank and Molly are Elle’s next door neighbors, and Elle is instantly attracted to Frank. His sincerity, his mannerisms, his everything. But slowly, thanks to very astute friends and an interrupted party, Elle finds out that Frank is transgendered, transitioning from female to male. Elle is equal parts terrified and angry; what was previously unknown is now known. What was previously felt was wrong. Or was it?
I liked this book because Elle grows to become more honest with herself. That is something everyone can afford to learn to do better: confront your fears and your ignorance on certain topics, and you will be freed from the stresses and negativity that is contained in that fear and ignorance.
This book was recommended (kind of…she just posted a quote from the novel on her Facebook) by the lovely Tess, a former coworker and a committee member on the 2012 Stonewall Book Award, the annual award given out by the ALA’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Round Table, which is “given annually to English-language works of exceptional merit for children or teens relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience.” Tess reads a lot and I truly respect her recommendations, and she was spot on with this one. This is her blog.