Leap by Jodi Lundgren is a startlingly realistic look into fifteen year old Natalie Ferguson’s life. It’s the end of the school year and Natalie is looking forward to working on her dancing and spending time with her friends. Written in diary style we share in the journey Natalie takes as she discovers what growing up really means.
Having just turned fifteen Natalie feels she is now officially grown up and while her mother, who almost never takes her nose out of a book seems to have missed that; Kevin, her best friend Sasha’s brother, hasn’t. When he takes notice of Natalie she’s thrilled. An older boy is paying attention to her – could he really like her? Big problem though – her friend Sasha will not like her having anything to do with her brother at all!
Natalie can’t resist the thrill of having Kevin interested in her though and things quickly become more involved than Natalie is completely comfortable with. To top it off Sasha hates her now and is bad mouthing her all over the place. The only thing going well for Natalie is her dancing. She finds she truly has talent In modern dance and with a teacher who encourages her she becomes more confident in herself. The one things she’s not confident in is Kevin. He leads her into many situations she’s just not comfortable with and the more time she spends with him, the more she realizes he may not be as great as she originally thought.
One of the huge issues Natalie has is the one with her parents. On the one hand she has a mother who acts like more of a friend than a mother and is always reading some book to the point of not paying proper attention to her children. To add insult to injury she finds out her mother has been secretly dating a woman and failed to share that with her. Then there’s her father who left when Natalie was young. He has pretty much been an absent father and Natalie has so much resentment towards him and more building when she finds he plans on remarrying.
This summer is a time of decisions for Natalie. Should she take that drink or try those drugs? Should she have sex and deal with all that it involves? Should she continue to see Kevin? Is it worth losing a best friend for a guy? Or should she just focus on her dancing? And what about her parents – will things change? The only thing Natalie knows for sure is she loves to dance. It takes her to a place where she feels peace and she wants to pass that on to others. Leap is the story of one girl’s coming of age to a time where she takes her own leap of faith into maturity and being a grown up.
Leap by Jodi Lundgren is a terrific story for teen girls and within its pages there are many lessons to be learned. It is told in a frank and straightforward style and that was something I really enjoyed about it and something I also think that teen girls could relate to – someone understanding the multitude of emotions they are going through at that age. Natalie is a great character who at times I wanted to just hug and at others give her a bit of a shake. I loved how she went from not so smart to realizing her worth and going forward.
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My copy of Leap by Jodi Lundgren was received for review from Second Story Press.