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Jumping the Scratch

Review

Jumping the Scratch

Eleven-year-old Jamie Reardon has had a string of bad luck. First, his beloved cat Mister dies. Next, his father runs off with a cashier from MicroMart. Then, aunt Sapphy has an accident at her job at the cherry factory, and Jamie and his mother have to move and take care of her. Just when Jamie thinks his luck will improve, another bad thing happens --- and it's so bad that all he can do is try his hardest to forget.

JUMPING THE SCRATCH begins after all this bad luck. In addition to missing his cat and feeling abandoned by his father, Jamie has to deal with being the new kid at school. He's harassed daily on the bus by Larry Baywood, who calls him "Rear-End," and his teacher doesn't even know his name. She calls him James instead of Jamie, but he never bothers to correct her. Plus, he no longer lives in a house. Now, he and his mother live with Sapphy at the Wondrous Acres trailer park. Sapphy can't live on her own anymore after the accident because she has no short-term memory. "The blow to her head caused Sapphy's memory to develop a skip, like an old phonograph record with a scratch." Every morning Jamie and his mother have to explain to Sapphy why they are there because she can't remember anything that happened after the accident. The doctors tell them that the only way to solve Sapphy's memory problem is to find a "magic trigger" --- something that will snap Sapphy out of it and make her memory "jump the scratch."

As Jamie attempts to help his aunt remember, all he can do is try to forget the last bad thing that happened to him. It's the one that makes him taste butterscotch in his mouth every time he gets upset. It's also the one that makes him avoid, at all costs, running into Old Gray, the creepy manager of the trailer park. One of Jamie's classmates, Audrey Krouch, notices that Jamie is unhappy and that something is bothering him. She offers to help hypnotize him to solve his problems. Little does Jamie know that the solution to his own problems will help aunt Sapphy as well.

JUMPING THE SCRATCH is a novel that resonates. The characters are so real, and Jamie's story is simply told yet strikes an emotional chord that sticks with the reader. Sarah Weeks, award-winning author of SO B. IT, is a master at creating a powerful story using just the right words and descriptions to make her readers care deeply for her characters.

Reviewed by Kristi Olson on May 1, 2006

Jumping the Scratch
by Sarah Weeks

  • Publication Date: May 1, 2006
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0060541091
  • ISBN-13: 9780060541095