Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde
When Ellie’s mom rents the fifteen-year-0ld her own apartment so the mom’s boyfriend won’t have to deal with a teenager, Ellie realizes that it’s a good thing she enjoys her own company. It’s not like she had a choice, after all. One of the few benefits, though, is her new neighbor Frank, who she is developing a crush on, despite his having a live-in girlfriend. In her mind, he’s so different from the boys she sees at school. He’s kind, gentle and actually listens to what she thinks.
Soon, however, Ellie discovers that he is different in a way she had never considered before, and she is both surprised and hurt. As she learns more about Frank and explores her feelings about him, Ellie begins to grow up, and even understand herself and her dysfunctional relationship with her mother better.
I really liked this book. It deals with a difficult subject in a very senstive way, without imposing stereotypes on its characters. I also appreciated that it took place in New York City without being cheesy, just allowing the urban setting to play a natural role in the story. Since the book is fairly short (under 200 pp.) it would be great for someone doing a quack book project. I recommend it to all teens.