KNOWLES, Jo. Living with Jackie Chan. 384p. Candlewick. Sept. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-6280-6; ebook $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-6716-0.
Gr 9 Up–Seventeen-year-old Josh expected to be hanging out with his friends and going to parties during his senior year, but all that changed after a one-night stand ended in an unexpected pregnancy. Afraid to face the girl whose life he believes he ruined, Josh moves in with his Jackie Chan-loving Uncle Larry and begins a new life at a new school.Yet no matter how hard he tries, he can’t escape his past. Overcome with guilt and regret, Josh concentrates on helping his uncle with his karate class. His growing friendship with his neighbor, Stella, forces Josh to face his past in an attempt to find forgiveness, especially from his own worst enemy: himself. In this companion to Jumping Off Swings (Candlewick, 2009), Knowles provides readers with an intimate look at Josh a year after the events of the first book. Tormented by his past actions, Josh is constantly at war with his feelings, denying himself any happiness as penance. As the emotional core of the book, Josh is a complex yet incredibly likable character with whom readers will empathize. Similarly, both Larry and Stella possess dynamic, well-developed personalities, making it easy to believe how crucial a role they play in Josh’s recovery. Divided into four parts, the compelling narrative offers an honest and frank look at teen pregnancy from the male’s perspective, and while the book could have been a depressing read in another author’s hands, Knowles succeeds in writing a character-driven story that is as uplifting as it is heartbreaking.–Audrey Sumser, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Mayfield, OH