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“I don’t know where to start, and I don’t know what to wish – that Jason never came to live in our neighborhood? That I didn’t ride past his house the day their moving truck pulled in? Or that I never saw a line of smokejumpers drop out of the sky?” Blair. —Jumper 

Jumper

by Melanie Crowder
AR Test


At A Glance
Interest Level

14+
Entertainment
Score
Reading Level
4.5
Number of Pages
336

Blair Scott has been “hell-bent on a career in wildland firefighting” since she was in high school. Being only nineteen, she and her longtime best friend, Jason, don’t expect to be recruited when the Forest Service calls for an additional class of smokejumpers. It’s a particularly rough fire season, though, and they are both accepted. The only thing holding Blair back is type 1 diabetes, and with Jason’s help, she is determined to hide her condition from their instructors.  

Training is strenuous, and both Jason’s and Blair’s families become more insistent that Blair tell the truth. They point out that the medical forms for the job say “‘diabetes may be disqualifying. It’s not an absolute.’” Blair doesn’t want to take any chances. Things are going too well to risk stalling the momentum. Eventually, however, things do begin to spiral out of control. When tragedy strikes, Blair is forced to pick up the pieces and decide where she goes from this point. 

Blair narrates the story, allowing for meaningful insights into her life and why she is so passionate about smokejumping. Also apparent is underlying guilt about Jason having to look after her. He is fiercely protective of her, to the point where Blair wonders if he would even be pursuing a job as a smokejumper if “he weren’t so committed to keeping [her] out of the ER.” This sentiment is most poignantly felt after a tragic accident that leaves Blair struggling to cope.  

The friendship between Blair and Jason is the highlight of the novel. It is refreshing to see Blair, who is a lesbian, enjoy a strong but purely platonic relationship with a man. Their dynamic is very enjoyable. At one point, Blair playfully muses that “Jason and I always fall for the same girls, and ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it’s him they want . . . If I were interested in guys, even a little, I’d probably join them.” The reader feels the connection between these two characters very deeply, and, as a result, the experiences Jason and Blair have together are impactful.  

Jumper is not a novel for everyone. The narrative is a slow burn that might be less than engaging for certain readers. A large portion of the story focuses on Blair and Jason’s training, and while it is undeniably an intense process and the risk of Blair having a health emergency looms, this part of the book is largely uneventful. In addition, Blair’s stubborn hotheadedness occasionally makes her difficult to like. Her ambitions are easy to empathize with, but her reckless nature can be frustrating as suspense is built around the danger she is putting herself in. 

Despite the aforementioned flaws, Jumper is a solid story about two friends fighting against the world. Readers who are interested in platonic male-female friendships will get a lot of enjoyment out of Blair’s bond with Jason. Additionally, those who are diabetic will relate to the protagonist’s struggles. The book also contains plenty of interesting information about smokejumping and just how difficult and dangerous the occupation is. The reader will be left with an appreciation for people in this line of work. Readers who enjoy Jumper should also check out the Peak Marcello Adventure Series by Roland Smith which takes readers into the suspenseful world of rock climbing. 

Sexual Content 

  • Blair is attracted to one of the female instructors, and Jason jokes that seeing the two of them run together is “orgasmic or something.” 

Violence 

  • In her childhood, Blair was bullied by a boy, so she retaliated by punching his nose “so hard, he squealed like a pig. Bled like one, too.” 
  • Early on, Blair and the other trainees are informed that a hand crew in Idaho “got caught between two walls of fire . . . there [were] no survivors.” 
  • In the Idaho fire, “members of the shot crew deployed to help clear an exit path sustained serious injuries that [grounded] some of them for the rest of the season.” 
  • Blair’s training is quite strenuous and results in minor injuries along the way, particularly when jumping. Blair describes: “[slamming] down on my already bruised hip . . . everything hurts, but I breathe into the pain. I can handle the pain.” 
  • One of Blair’s trainers stresses the importance of bending one’s knees when landing from a jump. He says, “you may have braces on your ankles. But there’s nothing to keep you from jamming your hip into the socket. I’ve only seen that happen once . . . I’d never heard a human being scream like that.” 
  • During a forest fire, Jason is killed in an avalanche when a boulder hits him in the chest. Blair hears “that meaty thwack of hard meeting soft, of expelled breath and crushed bones . . .  Jason is on the ground . . . There is a peculiar dent in his chest.” 

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • One of the trainers frequently chews Nicorette gum. 
  • After dinner, most of the recruits “head for the bar, while the four of us still underage park it outside the A & W next door.” Fellow underaged recruit Luís suggested joining the guys at the bar, saying “come on, goody-goodies, it’s only beer.” He convinces everyone but Blair to go with him. 
  • Blair uses insulin shots due to her diabetes. 
  • After a particularly rough landing, Blair says that she’ll have Advil with her dinner. 
  • Blair buys a “big bottle of ibuprofen” to lessen the pain caused by injuries sustained during training. 

Language 

  • Damn is said frequently.  
  • Occasionally shit, hell, and variations of ass are used. 
  • Blair says that Jason has a “natural resting-bitch face.” 

Supernatural 

  • None 

Spiritual Content 

  • A head trainer tells the newly minted smokejumpers, “‘If you’re the praying sort, ask for an early fall and a long, hard winter so we can regroup.’” 
  • During Jason’s funeral, Blair notes the pastor talking about Jason “like he was his favorite altar boy or something . . . Jason wasn’t religious. Why would they bother pretending he was?”
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“I don’t know where to start, and I don’t know what to wish – that Jason never came to live in our neighborhood? That I didn’t ride past his house the day their moving truck pulled in? Or that I never saw a line of smokejumpers drop out of the sky?” Blair. —Jumper 

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