Sunday, July 5, 2009

JUMPED by Rita Williams-Garcia

Bullying is an increasing problem in today's schools and society in general. JUMPED presents the problem in a unique way. Three characters present their view point of the same situation.

Trina is confident, actually a bit too confident. She arrives at school in a hot pink outfit she believes makes her a hot chick. In her mind she doesn't know how anyone could think she is anything but smashing. Her confidence gives her the cockiness necessary to brush off the assistant principal's criticism of her hip outfit, and her over-the-top attitude causes her to be totally unaware of the hostile feelings she creates as she bustles her way through the school hallways.

Dominique has basketball on her mind 24/7. Learning that her playing time has been cut due to an unacceptable math grade has her furious and ready to jump at anyone for just about anything. When Trina comes bouncing along and unintentionally takes the path between Dominique and her gang, Dominique promises to take her down at 2:45.

Leticia has just skipped out of zero period early to sneak outside to use her cell phone. She happens to witness Trina's accidental insult and Dominique's threat of violent retribution. When her cell phone connection is made, she passes on this juicy bit of gossip to her friend Bea. The reaction to this piece of fabulous gossip is not at all what she expects. Bea immediately tells Leticia she needs to warn Trina or tell someone about the likely attack. But why would she want to get involved? Leticia rationalizes that she may not have even heard things correctly. Why jump to conclusions about something that doesn't really even involve her?

There are three parties involved in most acts of violence. In the case of bullying - it is the one that is the bully, the one that is bullied, and the one that observes the behavior. JUMPED attempts to show all three parties and does it well. All three characters are portrayed in detail letting readers learn the inner workings of each individual. Each believes they are the center of their universe and doesn't consider the impact of their behavior on others. Seeing the three views is disturbing yet it provides a kind of education about human nature we all should examine carefully. Readers might learn from asking themselves what role they would play in a story like JUMPED.

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