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Last Updated on January 12, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 970

Author: Rita Williams-Garcia (b. 1957)

First published: 2009

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Realism

Time of plot: Present day

Locale: New York City

Principal characters

Leticia, a gossip

Trina, an artist and a flirt

Dominique, a basketball player

The Story

Jumped , written by Rita Williams-Garcia, takes place...

(The entire section contains 970 words.)

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Author: Rita Williams-Garcia (b. 1957)

First published: 2009

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Realism

Time of plot: Present day

Locale: New York City

Principal characters

Leticia, a gossip

Trina, an artist and a flirt

Dominique, a basketball player

The Story

Jumped, written by Rita Williams-Garcia, takes place at a New York City high school over the course of one day. The story is conveyed through three intertwining narratives. The novel begins with Leticia, a teenager who must wake up early to take a remedial math class before first period. Leticia, however, is not the only student who comes to school early that day. There is also Trina, an exuberant and flirtatious artist, who rushes through the halls to turn in her paintings for a Black History Month exhibit. Finally, there is Dominique, a basketball player who is there to talk to a teacher about raising her grade. Dominique is furious about being benched after not meeting her coach's academic standard—and that rage becomes the novel's catalyst. Leticia witnesses when Trina cuts through Dominique and her friends who are standing in the hall, but instead of apologizing, she keeps walking, unconcerned. Dominique mutters a threat and tells her friends that she is going to beat up Trina after school at 2:45 p.m.

Rita Williams-Garcia.

By Jeffrey Beall, CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), via Wikimedia Commons

Leticia, a shameless gossip, rushes to call her friend Bea and tells her what she just witnessed. Bea, who is at work, insists that Leticia must warn Trina about Dominique, which takes Leticia by surprise. Instead of following her friend's advice, Leticia chooses not to warn Trina and spends most of the day justifying this decision to herself. She does not want to get involved in the drama, but also, she reasons, there is the possibility that Dominique may change her mind. Leticia is more concerned about her broken nail. In gym class, she breaks her acrylic nail playing volleyball. Horrified, Leticia grabs her phone, which she named Celina, and calls both of her parents, demanding that they sue the school—or at least pick her up and take her to the salon to get the nail fixed.

Meanwhile, Trina spends most of the day positioning herself to get attention. From her hot pink tracksuit that says "Hot Chick" across the back, to her signature shaky-shake, Trina flirts her way out of a reprimand for violating the school dress code. She also becomes the star of the cafeteria, stomping and clapping with the school pep dancers. Each of the girls has a distinct and colorful voice, but Trina's voice is particularly focused on color. She sees the world as an extension of her vibrant paintings, and she is horrified when her tablemate in art class is instructed to draw her portrait in black and white. Trina is certainly conceited and often thinks that people probably wish they were her. The author, however, hints that her performative confidence masks insecurity.

On the other hand, Dominique lives to play basketball. Being benched has left her seeking for an outlet for her rage. Whether this deep anger comes from being benched or merely lives within her—or a combination of the two—is left up to the reader. Dominique plans to confront her teacher first thing that morning, waiting for him in the parking lot. Furthermore, her altercation with Trina that morning happens after a second rebuff from her coach. Although Dominique clings to her plan to beat up Trina that afternoon, throughout the day she does not think much about it. Instead, the majority of her narrative is devoted to basketball and her demonstrations of anger. In nearly every interaction she seeks an outlet for pain. In gym class, for instance, she begs to spike the volleyball.

These three storylines lead to the same inevitable conclusion: Dominique attacks Trina, putting her in the hospital and herself in prison—and Leticia watches it all go down.

Critical Evaluation

Williams-Garcia is the award-winning author of young-adult novels, including Fast Talk on a Slow Track (1991), Like Sisters on the Homefront (1995), and No Laughter Here (2003)—which were all chosen as American Library Association (ALA) Best Books for young adults.

Jumped, which captures the menacing atmosphere of many high schools, was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award for young people's literature. The novel was praised for its nuance, detail, and the vibrancy of its characters. Williams-Garcia has noted in interviews that Jumped was difficult to write because it was inspired by the rise of violence among teenage girls and young women. The author has also explained that although there is always a bully and a victim, she wanted to write about the silent spectator. Therefore, Williams-Garcia is careful to present each girl in the story in her full complexity. All three girls are both culpable and innocent; the violence springs from them but also changes the course of their lives—or at least Dominique and Trina's lives. Leticia, the silent spectator, feels no remorse.

Furthermore, Williams-Garcia uses imagery rooted in school life to underscore the drama in her characters' lives. The girls, for instance, study the betrayal of Lenny in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. They also study the novel A Separate Peace, in which author John Knowles invokes the Maginot Line, a wall of defense France built along its border with Germany during World War II. Leticia's class discusses the meaning of the image in this context, about how people put up defenses and make enemies.

Further Reading

  • Review of Jumped, by Rita Williams-Garcia. Kirkus Reviews, 15 Feb. 2009, www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/rita-williams-garcia/jumped. Accessed 17 Mar. 2017.
  • Review of Jumped, by Rita Williams-Garcia. Publishers Weekly, 2 Feb. 2009, www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-06-076091-5. Accessed 17 Mar. 2017.
  • "Rita Williams-Garcia." National Book Foundation, www.nationalbook.org/nba2009_ypl_williamsgarcia.html. Accessed 21 Mar. 2017.
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