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*Leap* by Jane Breskin Zalben - middle grades book review
by Jane Breskin Zalben
Ages 10+ 272 pages Knopf January 2007 Hardcover    

Daniel and Krista have been friends since elementary school, when they were swim buddies on the Barracuda swim team. Lately, things have been strained as Daniel and Krista begin to have other interests and other friends.

Suddenly, following a simple dental procedure, Daniel is paralyzed from the waist down and can no longer swim or even walk. His faltering relationship with Krista is magnified by her interest in Bobby, and the fact that Danielís therapist is Kristaís father.

As each young teen tells the story, the reader flips back and forth from Krista to Daniel. In the midst of the tale, the reader hears about Kristaís desire to fit in with the other girls, but also about her abiding loyalty to Daniel. Krista truly wants to help Daniel and is willing to accept the taunts from other friends about how she chooses to use her time.

The guilt of Danielís paralysis lies with Bobby, whose father performed the dental procedure, and with Danielís mother, who simply finds it impossible to cope.

One of the definitions of leap is ďto transition.Ē Leap is a story of teen drama and family commitment, of children in transition to becoming adults. It is a reminder that life can change in a moment and that, for many of lifeís decisions, children are asked to bear a responsibility that is not theirs.

Although the characters are somewhat light, the situations are well developed. There is much to be considered here and much to be discussed. The awarding-winning author has six other novels to her credit as well as cookbooks, picture books and short stories.
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