Published by Candlewick on 10 September 2013
Genres: Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Young Adult
Also by this author: Jumping Off Swings
Place(s) Traveled to: Unnamed – Somewhere in the Northeast USA
First Line(s): When Caleb, Dave, and I pull up to my uncle’s apartment building a wave of sickness rolls up my throat and threatens to spew across Caleb’s dashboard.
Living with Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles is the follow up to her popular book Jumping Off Swings which deals with a one night stand and the resulting teen pregnancy. Unlike its predecessor, Living with Jack Chan is told from a single POV, this time Josh the baby daddy from Swings. In this story Josh decides to run away from his life and live with his Uncle and go to a new school several hours away from his old one for his senior year. He hides from the consequences of the choices that he made and while he seemed sweet in the first book here he just comes across as a bit of a dick. First, there’s the whole running away thing and then there is the whole ignoring his friends and family thing and in general he just has a very mopey bad attitude.
I found it very hard to like him in this book and I also found it hard to like his Uncle and his new love interest, Stella, as well. Josh’s Uncle Larry is this terrible over-the-top caricature of a character. He’s obsessed with karate and Jackie Change and never listens to anyone around him. If he loves karate then by default Josh must as well and so forces him to take lessons pretty much daily. Plus, his whole personality is just so annoying and grating that there were times that I literally cringed while reading scenes involving him. Then there is Stella, the unattainable girl with a bad boy boyfriend that Josh falls almost instantly for. As a reader, you can see all the not so subtle signs that Stella’s oh so amazing boyfriend really isn’t and so their whole story arc just seems so forced. Stella is also the sweet girl who is only willing to go so far to be a friend and so while she leans on Josh a lot she refuses to acknowledge him in public. Yeah. Great friend.
As with Jumping Off Swings, the story is broken up into four time periods with gaps of time between each. This is something that should move the story along quickly but again only seems to bog things down. Right before each gap there would be this revelation or bomb shell and I’d think FINALLY something is going to happen! Then the gap and when the story picks up again the characters are all in the same place emotionally and more in denial of their issues than ever before. It was a bit exhausting all this teenage angst All of this led up to some rushed events with Stella, a blink of the eye break through with Josh’s BS, and a complete and total non-ending. I’m all for open endings but this one reads as if there should be more. That someone out there in a fit of spite decided to rip out the last chapter as it just cuts off so abruptly.
If I’m honest, I will admit that I am not sure why I finished this one. I think that a part of me just kept hoping that something, anything, would happen. But then nothing did. It was just so blah for me. I also think that after reading, and not really liking three books, by Jo Knowles that I am done with this author. Well, her books as I’ve followed her on twitter for a bit and she seems like a really nice person. But I never seem to connect with the stories that she writes. I am always disappointed in the books and I don’t think that will change. Its always sad when you break up with an author’s work but sometimes it just needs to be done.
That said, I think that those who liked Jumping Off Swings will enjoy this novel. Its written in the same style and does give a little insight into events that happened in that book. There is potential for discussion in how people deal with the consequences of a life changing event. What would you do if you were Josh? Would you stay and face the looks and the gossip? Or would you leave and try to forge a new life? I think that Josh did what he thought was right and it was a choice. Would I have made the same one? I don’t know. Maybe, as I am not one for confrontation. But would that be the right choice? No one can really say. That’s the crazy amazing thing about living there are always choices to make. Sometimes they are good ones and sometimes not so good. You just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and deal with the outcome.
People who liked this better than I did:
What’s Not Wrong – “The characters are appealing but quirky and trying really hard to navigate their ways through school, or romance, or addiction, or whatever individual murkiness is giving them trouble. Readers can always find something to admire in these characters, even as we see them make bad choices.”
Reading Junkie’s Reading Roost – “Fans of JUMPING OFF SWINGS should be satisfied with this continuing story. It clears illustrates the aftermath of a life-changing mistake. Josh learns that he may never forget the painful past, but he may be able to grow from the experience.