Catherine Ryan Hyde Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than 25 published and forthcoming books, including the bestselling When I found You, Pay It Forward, Don't Let Me Go, and Take Me With You.


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Jumpstart the World

Jumpstart the World is a young adult novel (though, like so many of mine, it is equally suited to adults) released on October 12, 2010 from Knopf. It was chosen for the American Library Association's Rainbow list, and as a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards. It also won first and second place in two categories of the Rainbow Awards.

In my own words: 

Elle is a barely 16-year-old girl whose mom dumps her into her own apartment (in Manhattan, yet) because mom’s new boyfriend doesn’t want to deal with a teenager. She’s never been very well listened to, and has lived her life as a loner. To make matters worse, she has to start over in a new school.

The morning of her first school day, she shaves off 95% of her hair as an act of rage against her mother, who is obsessed with beauty. And by the end of the day, Elle’s locker has been spray-painted with the ugly and threatening word “queer.”

Alone and scared, she’s ripe to fall in love with the first guy who pays the slightest bit of attention to her. That turns out to be Frank, her new next door neighbor. He’s a lot older, and in a long-term relationship, but she loves him anyway. She loves him even though she knows they won’t end up together. She loves him no matter what.

And then she finds out he’s transgender. Female to male, in transition. When the shock wears off, Elle is a little surprised to learn that she loves Frank just the same. The feelings are a little more uncomfortable now. But they haven’t gone away. Instead, they stay on to force Elle to reexamine the meaning of friendship and, of course, herself.

For a GLBTQ reader's guide to Jumpstart the World and other Random House GLBTQ titles, CLICK HERE.

The reviews are coming in, and they're looking good!  Publishers Weekly says, "Readers will be moved by Elle's thoughtful and honest narration, which genuinely reads like someone sorting through a complex situation." School Library Journal says, "Willing to admit her mistakes and growing stronger throughout the book, Elle is a likable, well-developed character with whom teens will identify."  The Empty Closet says, "Jumpstart the World exemplifies the best of what young adult fiction can be. It is a sensitive portrayal of the ways people fumble and grow along the path towards love, acceptance and strength, complete with heartwarming, realistic characters and a multi-layered plot that is a delight to experience. I strongly recommend this book to readers of all ages and walks of life."  The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books says, "...spare, evocative prose...a moving portrayal of people trying to live authentically in a world that seems bent on rejecting them." And the San Luis Obispo Tribune called it, "An honest, tender story about compassion in the face of overwhelming prejudice."

Meanwhile the book reviewer bloggers have been wonderfully kind to Jumpstart.  Here are a few examples: 

"This is like a non-review. It’s like a confession of love.  I really don’t see how anyone could’ve written a better trans YA novel."  -Brent, Naughty Book Kitties

"Jumpstart the World was an emotional and intense novel by a fabulous young adult author. She wrote about something I’ve never really thought about before and opened my eyes to how difficult it is for transgendered people. I definitely recommend picking this up. It’s a quick read... and will leave a big impression on every reader." -Kelsey, The Book Scout

"For me, Jumpstart the World is a must read. Not only will it help adults in regaining a sense of appreciation and understanding of this difficult time of life, it may also help others to become more tolerant and kind. In a day when teens often feel abandoned and completely alone they need books like Jumpstart the World that show them there is love in the world. With an eloquence I have yet to read elsewhere, Catherine Ryan Hyde illustrates precisely the impact one individual can have on another, especially when the motive is love." -Danielle, There's a Book

"First of all, I loved Jumpstart the World! Loved, loved, loved it. There's something about the way that Hyde writes that is so authentic and real and raw that you can't help but love the characters." -Sam, Read Sam, Read

"All in all, this is an excellent portrayal of love, overcoming odds, and finding acceptance. An exceptional and inspiring read with a message for us all." -Corrine, Lost For Words

"It certainly did not surprise me that the master writer who gave us Pay it Forward would be able to create a book like this; a truly fantastic story that offers the most tender, heartfelt feelings and characters that you will never be able to forget." -Amy,

"Hurrah for the recent spate of high-quality books about trans kids! new favorite: Jumpstart the World. Highly recommended for all public and many school libraries." -Daisy Porter, Queer YA

"Catherine's writing is....addicting.  It's beautiful yet spare, and the reader knows that her words have meaning and weight.  Her plots are always interesting, and she never bogs her story down with unneeded words or concepts that don't work or add to the overall product.  Her depiction of LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ characters is flawless and well researched.  Some of the best writing I've seen in a long time.  Overall, Jumpstart the World is a book that belongs in libraries, public and personal, around the nation.  More people need to read books like this.  Ones that show that understanding is within reach."  -John, Dreaming in Books