Saturday, June 07, 2008

Book Review: Jump the Cracks by Stacy DeKeyser

48 Hour Challenge Book 3
Started: Saturday, 7:21 pm
Finished: Saturday, 8:12 pm

Book: Jump the Cracks
Author: Stacy DeKeyser
Published: 2008

On a train bound for New York City, fifteen-year-old Victoria watches as a mother not much older than herself neglects and mistreats her toddler. But the final straw comes when the other girl stashes the little boy in the train restroom and disembarks at Penn Station. This just happens to be Victoria’s own stop, where her father was supposed to meet her and, in the latest of a string of broken promises, doesn’t show.

Furious for herself and for the toddler, Victoria makes a decision. There’s nobody she’s willing to give the toddler back to, so he’ll just have to stay with her. And he does . . . through several states, a number of phone calls and a growing news blitz about the Penn Station kidnapping.

As the hours pass and the mess gets bigger, Victoria--who always thought she knew the right answer--is forced to realize that there may be no such thing as the exact right answer, but only the nearest cousin, and finding that answer is the most difficult thing she’ll ever have to do.

Reading this book was like being dragged through by a team of wild horses. Really. I couldn’t put this sucker down. I sympathized--a lot--with Victoria’s feelings. I don’t think anyone who works with children on a day-to-day basis will fail to understand. There are always those families you wince to watch, knowing that there’s only so much you can do. But like Victoria comes to understand, it’s not as simple as, “If he were with me, he’d be better off.”

Give to this to teens who like realistic novels about shades of grey and difficult questions with even more difficult answers.

Final note: From the temper tantrums to the unpredictability to the nanosecond attention spa--oo, shiny!--DeKeyser’s portrayal of an active two-year-old is spot-on. Kudos on that, and on a great first novel.

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