From School Library Journal
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, OHα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Last seen in Jumping Off Swings (2009), Josh, who accidentally got Ellie pregnant when he was 16, is struggling deeply with the aftermath of his actions. Trying to escape his guilt, Josh moves in with his Jackie Chan–obsessed, karate-instructor uncle, Larry, hoping to just keep his head down, finish high school, get into college, and forget his mistakes. Larry has other plans, though, and quickly recruits him to assist his karate classes. As he spends his days with his irrepressibly cheerful Zen master of an uncle—eating healthy food; not drinking; practicing karate; and befriending Stella, the beautiful girl upstairs—he learns how to be a “true karate man,” epitomizing the values of leadership, strength, and honor, all of which help him accept his past and take responsibility for his mistakes. Knowles compassionately depicts the consequences of teen pregnancy from the boy’s perspective, and Josh’s journey—aided in no small part by the kind (and perky) wisdom of his uncle—is touching and honest. Josh’s anger, sadness, and regret are palpable, but his ultimate steps forward are quietly triumphant. Grades 9-12. –Sarah Hunter
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After fathering a baby, a teenager moves in with his karate-loving uncle and tries to come to terms with his guilt — and find a way to forgive.This isn’t how Josh expected to spend senior year. He thought he’d be hanging out with his best friends, Dave and Caleb, driving around, partying, just like always. But here he is, miles from home — new school, new life, living with his Jackie-Chan-obsessed uncle, Larry, and trying to forget. But Josh can’t forget. So many things bring back memories of last year and the night that changed everything. Every day the pain, the shame, and the just not knowing are never far from his thoughts. Why is he such a loser? How could he have done what he did? He finds some moments of peace when he practices karate with Stella, the girl upstairs and his one real friend. As they move together through the katas, Josh feels connected in a way he has never felt before. He wonders if they could be more than friends, but Stella’s jealous boyfriend will make sure that doesn’t happen. And maybe it doesn’t matter. If Stella knew the truth, would she still think he was a True Karate Man? Readers first met Josh in Jumping Off Swings which told the story of four high school students and how one pregnancy changed all of their lives. In this companion book, they follow Josh as he tries to come to terms with what happened, and find a way to forgive.