Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Living With Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles

Unable to deal with his past mistakes, Josh decides to leave the town where he grew up and move in with his uncle to finish his senior year.  Uncle Larry is obsessed with karate and all things Jackie Chan and wants to help Josh deal with his demons.  Josh thought that starting a new school in a new place would cure him of the pain that he's been feeling since Ellie gave birth to his baby and gave him up for adoption.  Running away hasn't changed anything.  It doesn't help that there is a baby living in the apartment above theirs that wakes Josh up with his cries, reminding him over and over again of all the pain.  He begins taking karate classes from his uncle, which neighbor-girl Stella just happens to be taking the class too.  They become friends and Josh even starts feeling something more for her, but there are 2 problems: 1.  Stella has a boyfriend (a jealous one at that), and 2.  Josh is so ashamed at what happened to him last year, he doesn't possibly feel he deserves love.

I read Jumping Off Swings in 2012 and didn't love it.  I did really enjoy the writing though, so I wanted to give this book a try.  Plus I had always wondered WHY Josh never discussed what had happened with Ellie.  It really really bothered me in that first book.  He finds out he got a girl pregnant and then proceeds to get his friends to ask her if she wants his help.... ummm????  MAN UP!  Anyway, when I found out that this was about his journey post-baby, I decided to give it a shot.  Plus that title weirdly made me curious.

So Josh decides to leave town and move in with his uncle Larry.  And Larry is something-else.  He's this super corny annoying over-the-top dude that probably needed put down.  (Did I go too far there??)  Ok but he was like this big, happy lap-dog, slobbering all over Josh and super rah-rah about life.  But the thing is he freaking GREW on me.  How can you NOT like a guy who tries as hard as Larry?  I found it impossible to keep up my annoyance with him and honestly now I'm thinking about trying to be more positive.  (If you haven't noticed I'm not the most rah-rah person you'll ever meet).

Beyond that, this book had a lot of the same problems as the first book for me.  It still seemed to send the message that sex=death.  Okay maybe not death, but that bad things happen to teens who have sex.  Also I had a hard time believing that someone would beat themselves up so much over a mistake like that.  Maybe Josh was just more sensitive than the average guy... but clearly what happened with Ellie was just as much her fault as his.

There was a lot of internal reflection but with nothing new happening.  Just Josh going over and over how he didn't want to deal with his problems or ever go home and how great Larry was being.  At some point I was like okkaaayyyy what's next, move along.  The first book was super short, but this one went too long for the amount of nonhappenings that there were.

I really liked the what is a true karate man stuff.  I can see how doing karate could be extremely cathartic to someone with a lot of things going on in their head.  I really enjoyed reading about how karate was more than just physical activity.  It became more or less an example of the kind of person Josh wanted to be.

OVERALL: An okay book that looks at looks at the guys' perspective in an accidental pregnancy/adoption scenario post-adoption.  I enjoyed it more than Jumping Off Swings, but still felt like it was too internal and judgey.

This Book Contains:

  • Karate
  • Jackie Chan movies
  • A wedding
  • Friendship
  •  Possessive boyfriend syndrome
  • A cat named Clover
  • A baby
  • City living
  • Dysfunctional family issues
  • Coming of age

My Rating:


How I got this book: Library
Date Published: 9/10/2013

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