Monday, June 10, 2013

Living With Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles

Over the years there have been many teen pregnancy books. Most of them focus on the girl who becomes pregnant. The very first novel I ever read that dealt with teen pregnancy was Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones by Ann Head. I borrowed it from a friend my freshman year of high school and read it only at school because I was afraid my strict parents would confiscate it for its racy subject. There are books about girls who decide on adoption, abortion, or keeping their baby. Some teen books dealing with teen pregnancy and parenting are even about boys -- Angela Johnson’s multi-award winning classic The First Part Last but up until now, all the novels with a male protagonist  I’ve found have been about the boy stepping up and being a read dad. Living With Jackie Chan is about Josh, a character from Jumping off Swings. Even though it takes place after Jumping Off Swings it isn’t really a sequel. The style is very different and focuses completely on Josh who did not escape unscathed when he impregnated a girl with whom he had no relationship beyond the few minutes of sex when he lost his virginity. Feeling guilty, Josh decides to move a few hours away from home to live with his uncle and finish high school. His uncle teaches karate and is a huge fan of Jackie Chan. Josh’s life is complicated by the crying baby who lives upstairs who wakes him at 2 am every morning and leaves him thinking about the child for whom he
never accepted any responsibility. He also finds a friend in a girl who lives upstairs who also takes karate with him but has a very controlling and perhaps abusive boyfriend. This thoughtful, sensitive book does break new ground. It will be in bookstores and libraries in September.

High School (gr.9-12). Teen. Contemporary. Issues.

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