Leap is a perfect name for this novel about adolescents coming of age and making painful transitions in their lives. The story is told in two voices, Krista and Daniel’s. These characters used to be inseparable until puberty got in the way. Now Krista has a crush on Daniel’s one time best friend, Bobby, the school “hunk.” In the summer before middle school, Daniel has a seemingly minor operation and ends up paralyzed. Bobby’s father performed the operation, so Daniel and Bobby are no longer even speaking to each other. The book explores the themes of friendship, loyalty, and empathy as Daniel begins to heal from his injury and his friends rally to help him. Once he is on the road to recovery, his mother decides to leave the family to explore her own individuality, taking her own “leap.” The characters are well drawn and the plot of the book is compelling. The situations the adolescents find themselves in accurately depict real life for middle school students. The characters do briefly refer to themselves as Jewish. In one incident in the novel, Krista refuses to get a tattoo because of her grandparents’ concentration camp mark. Other than that the book is not overtly Jewish, but the major themes of compassion for those in need, responsibility for visiting the sick, and being a moral person are the backbone of this novel and speak directly to those looking for a book that exemplifies those mitzvot without preaching. Ages 10 – 14.
Susan Dubin was the first librarian honored with a Milken Family Foundation Jewish Educator Award. She is the owner/director of Off-the-Shelf Library Services and library instructional consultant at Valley Beth Shalom Day School in Encino, CA.