cover image Jump


Elisa Carbone, Viking, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-670-01185-8

Told through the alternating present-tense perspectives of two runaways who connect through their love of rock climbing, Carbone’s (Blood on the River) picaresque novel is equal parts entertaining and provocative. Strong-willed 16-year-old P.K. runs away to avoid being shipped to boarding school, and gentle-natured Critter, who has the ability to see colors that indicate people’s emotions (for reasons he keeps to himself for some time), escapes from a psychiatric hospital. The teens hitchhike to Las Vegas and jump at the chance to make the first-ever ascent of a steep rock face. Chapters range from a few sentences to a few pages, and the descriptions of the pair’s climbs are riveting—especially a treacherous scramble up a cliff with police in pursuit. Yet the narrators’ psychological explorations are as exhilarating as their physical exploits. The allegedly unbalanced Critter takes serenity to new heights as he shares with P.K. logical, relatable coping mechanisms (“You’re scared of the future.... look at where you are now. Is there anything to be afraid of?”). An incisive reflection on endurance, independence, belonging, self-knowledge, and love, this story should find a wide audience. Ages 12–up. (May)