A thrilling YA adventure about a fifteen-year-old girl with an unexpected abilityshe can jump inside books and experience their stories firsthand.
About the Author
Mechthild Gläser is an award-winning author in her native Germany. The Book Jumper is her first book to be translated into English.
Read an Excerpt
The Book Jumper
By Mechthild Gläser, Romy Fursland
Feiwel and FriendsCopyright © 2015 Mechthild Gläser
All rights reserved.
ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS AN ISLAND
Once upon a time there we stood, Alexis and me, chucking things into suitcases. Socks, sweaters, pants. I tugged handfuls of clothes from my wardrobe and flung them into the wheeled suitcase that lay open behind me, and Alexis did the same in the next room. We barely even registered what we were packing, whether we'd included our favorite clothes or not. The main thing was to get it done quickly. That's what we'd agreed. Because if we'd taken our time over the packing and made a list, the way we usually did, we would surely have realized that what we were doing was completely and utterly crazy.
Everyone in my family was crazy. That's what my mum, Alexis, always said anyway, when I asked her why she'd run away from her home in Scotland at the age of seventeen with nothing but a suitcase in her hand and me in her belly. She'd upped sticks and left for Germany — pregnant and not even legally an adult yet — and ended up in Bochum. I think she felt too young to be a mum, so she wanted me to call her by her first name instead, which I always had and still did. And now I was nearly seventeen myself (well, in fourteen months I would be) and it was starting to look like I'd inherited the "crazy" gene. That morning at breakfast — an hour ago now — I, too, had spontaneously decided to leave the country. We'd gone online and booked ourselves flights on a budget airline, departing that same afternoon. All we had to do now was pack. I rooted around in a drawer and hurriedly dug out a few bras and pairs of underwear.
"Bring your warm jacket with you, Amy," said Alexis as she wheeled her suitcase (stuffed to bursting with clothes) into my bedroom and tried to squish my pillow in on top. Inside the case I could see her organic cotton corduroys and a shirt from Etsy decorated with a brightly colored apple print.
"I don't really think I need a parka in July," I muttered. My suitcase was pretty full by now, too — although mainly with books. Clotheswise I'd packed only what was strictly necessary. The way I saw it, it was better to take one less cardigan than have to do without one of my favorite books.
"I think you're underestimating the weather over there," said Alexis, eyeing the contents of my suitcase and shaking her mahogany-brown locks. Her eyes were red and swollen; she'd been up all night crying. "Just take your e-reader. Won't that do?"
"But I don't have Momo or Pride and Prejudice as e-books."
"You've read both those books about a hundred times each."
"And what if I want to read them for the hundred-and-first time while I'm there?"
"They've got more than enough books on that blessed island, Amy, believe me. You have no idea."
I ran my fingertips over the cover of my well-thumbed copy of Momo. I'd often wished I had an enchanted tortoise like the one in Momo to guide me on my journey through life. I needed this book. It comforted me when I was sad. I needed it now more than ever.
Alexis sighed. "Well, make sure you fit the jacket in somehow, OKAY? It can get pretty chilly there." She sat down on the suitcase and tugged at the zipper. "I'm worried this whole thing is a bad idea anyway," she fretted. "Are you sure that's the only place you'll be able to take your mind off things?"
* * *
The tiny boat pitched in the swell, tossed back and forth as though the sea were playing ball with it. Lightning flickered across the sky, where dark storm clouds were massing, shrouding the ocean in a cloak of surreal gray pierced by sudden flares of light and ominous rolls of thunder. The water had turned the color of slate and the rain was coming down in sheets — heavy, biting gray raindrops that hammered down on the waves and sharpened their crests. What with the thunderstorm and the giant waves smashing against the cliffs that loomed on the horizon, Mother Nature was putting on a pretty formidable display. It was terrifying, awe-inspiring, and wonderful all at the same time.
On second thought, "wonderful" was possibly a bit of an overstatement. The problem was that I happened to be sitting in this tiny little boat, in the middle of this thunderstorm, clinging onto my seat for dear life to keep myself from falling overboard. Spray shot into the air and into our faces. Alexis tried gamely to hold on to our luggage, while the man driving the boat cranked up the engine till it roared.
The rain had come down quite suddenly and within seconds I'd been soaked through. I was also freezing cold, and all I could think about was arriving — I didn't care where, as long as it was somewhere warm and dry. During our flight from Dortmund to Edinburgh, the sun had still been shining, in a bright, cloudless sky. And though a few clouds had appeared by the time we'd boarded the little plane to Sumburgh Airport on Mainland (the biggest of the Shetland Islands, off the Scottish coast), I certainly hadn't reckoned with this apocalyptic scene.
I blinked at the burning of the salt water in my eyes as another wave rocked our boat and nearly swallowed up Alexis's handmade felt handbag. It was getting harder and harder to hold on to my seat. The ice-cold wind had long since numbed my fingers to the point where I could barely control them. Reading about a storm like this in a book was a far more pleasurable experience. When I was reading — even when I was scared, when I shuddered in horror, when the story plunged me right into the midst of the most terrible disasters — I never entirely lost that warm, cozy tucked-up-on-the-sofa feeling. There was no trace of that feeling now, and I realized that real-life storms, unlike literary ones, were most definitely not my idea of fun.
The next wave was even more savage than the last, and it washed clean over my head. At the same moment I gulped frantically for breath — not the best idea, as it caused me to choke on a huge mouthful of water. Coughing and gasping, I tried to empty my lungs of seawater while Alexis landed a few hearty thumps on my sodden back. This sent her bag sailing overboard. Oh, crap! But Alexis seemed to have given up on the idea of bringing all our possessions safely ashore anyway, and didn't even spare a glance for this portion of her worldly goods.
"Nearly there, Amy. Nearly there!" she called — no sooner had the words crossed her lips than they were carried away on the wind. "We did want to come here, remember. I'm sure we're going to have a lovely holiday on Stormsay." It was probably supposed to sound cheerful, but her voice cracked with suppressed panic.
"We're here because we're running away," I replied, although too quietly for Alexis to hear. I didn't want to remind her or myself of the real reasons for our trip. After all, we were running away to forget. To forget that Dominik had broken up with Alexis and gone back to his wife and children. Completely out of the blue. And to forget that those stupid idiots in my year at school ... No — I'd promised myself not to even think about it anymore.
The boat's outboard motor howled as if trying to drown out the storm, and the rain grew heavier, beating down on my head and shoulders and lashing at my face. It was literally impossible for me to get any wetter. But I was relieved nonetheless to see that the island seemed to be drawing nearer. Stormsay, the home of my ancestors. Through a curtain of wet hair, I squinted at the shoreline and hoped the skipper knew what he was doing and that we were not about to get smashed to smithereens on the rocks.
The cliff face looked immense, jagged, and deadly. It towered nearly a hundred feet above the slate-gray waves and at its summit, way up high where the raging of the wind was at its most treacherous ...
... there was somebody standing at the cliff's edge.
At first I thought it was a tree. But then I realized it was a human being, leaning into the storm and looking out to sea. A figure with short hair, coat flapping in the wind, watching us from the clifftop. It had one hand raised to shield its eyes, and the other rested on the head of a huge black dog.
I stared back, shivering, as the boat hove to. We left the cliffs behind us and battled on, arcing around toward the eastern shore of the island. The figure receded into the distance, eventually disappearing from view.
And then, finally, we came to a jetty. It was half submerged and wobbled precariously, but our captain managed to moor the boat with a few deft movements and we tumbled out onto dry land. At last.
The embankment was slippery and the rain was still falling hard, but we'd reached our destination. Stormsay. The word tasted of secrets. It sounded somehow full of promise and slightly eerie at the same time. This was the first time I'd ever been to the island. For a long time Alexis had never even mentioned it to me — until at some point during primary school I'd realized that not all children learned both German and English from their parents, and that my name sounded different from everyone else's. Amy Lennox. And even then Alexis had been reluctant to admit that we came from Scotland. When she'd left, in fact, aged seventeen, she'd vowed never to go back. And now ...
We trudged along a muddy street, the wheels of our suitcases sinking into the sludge. On either side of us, scattered at intervals along the road, were little houses — no more than a handful of cottages, really, with crooked roofs and cob walls and windows of bulging glass, some of which flickered with yellow light. I wondered which one my grandmother lived in, and hoped that the little houses were more weatherproof on the inside than they looked from the outside.
The man who'd ferried us across to the island mumbled something about the pub and beer and disappeared through a doorway. Alexis, however, plowed straight on past the last of the cottages. She seemed determined to leave even these meager remnants of civilization behind us, and it was all I could do just to keep up with her. My suitcase had gotten stuck in yet another muddy puddle and I had to tug at the handle with all my strength to get it out.
"Your mum does live in an actual, like ... house, right?" I grumbled, wondering why I hadn't questioned Alexis more closely as to what exactly it was that was so crazy about my grandmother. After all, "crazy" might mean she ate tree bark and wore clothes made of pinecones and lived out in the wild with the creatures of the forest. ...
Alexis didn't answer but simply gestured toward something in the darkness ahead of us and beckoned to me to follow her. At that moment my suitcase suddenly came unstuck with unexpected force. I was splattered from head to toe with mud. Brilliant!
While Alexis still looked gorgeous, even with her wet hair (as if she'd stepped straight out of a shampoo ad), I was starting to feel more and more like a drowned rat. I muttered away to myself crossly as I trudged on.
The road soon narrowed into a track and grew even muddier. The lights were far behind us now. We could barely see the little village at all anymore, though the icy wind still blew alongside us like a faithful friend and wormed its way through all the little gaps in the knit of my woolly sweater. Raindrops whipped into my face as I caught up with Alexis. We really were heading out into the wilderness.
"There was somebody up on the clifftop. Did you see?" I said breathlessly, trying to distract myself from the feeling that any minute now I was going to freeze to death.
"On Shakespeare's Seat? In this weather? I'd be very surprised," murmured Alexis, so quietly I could barely hear her. Then, from the top of a steep little slope she'd just clambered up, she offered, "Here — let me take your suitcase."
I heaved the case into her arms and scrambled up after it. When I reached the top, I realized we were standing on a sort of plateau. In the distance I could see another cluster of lights, and towers that looked like the turrets of a castle etched against the night sky. And there were lights close by, too, in some of the windows of a huge mansion to our right. We were standing at a fork in the path. Straight ahead, the track carried on across the moor.
But Alexis took the right-hand fork and marched up to a wrought-iron gate between two hedges, behind which I glimpsed something like a park or a gravel drive with a fountain in the middle. These big houses (in the movies, at least) almost always had gravel paths flanked by crisply clipped shrubs, statues, climbing roses, and often a classic convertible for good measure. You had to have an imposing backdrop for the lovers' kiss, or the tracking down of the murderer. ... The house behind the gate looked pretty grand, at any rate, even from this distance. The walls were studded with countless bay windows, and a whole host of little towers and chimneys jutted into the sky, grazing the storm clouds. Behind the windowpanes hung heavy curtains, with flickering candlelight shining through the gaps between them.
The rain grew heavier again now and the individual raindrops merged to form a veil as if trying, at the last moment, to hide the mansion from view. But it was far too late for that. We'd landed on the island, and there was no going back now.
Alexis laid her fingertips on the ornate handle of the gate and took a deep breath. "All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," she murmured at last, pushing open the gate.
"What?" I said.
"Oh — it's just the first line of a novel I often used to ... read here." She sighed.
"I see," I said, though I didn't really. My teeth were chattering so loudly by this time that I could hardly think straight.
We hefted and hauled our luggage across a small park made up of gravel paths and crisply clipped shrubs, past a fountain and several climbing roses, and up a flight of marble steps. The only thing missing was the classic convertible. Without further ado, Alexis rang the doorbell.
A gong sounded loudly inside the house.
But it was still a long time before the oak door swung open and a large wrinkly nose emerged from behind it. The nose belonged to an old man in a suit, who eyed us keenly over the top of his glasses.
"Good evening, Mr. Stevens. It's me, Alexis."
Mr. Stevens gave a curt nod. "Of course, ma'am. I can see that," he said, stepping aside. "Were we expecting you?"
"No. But I'd like to speak to my mother," said Alexis. Mr. Stevens nodded again and helped her heave her battered suitcase over the threshold. When he reached for my case with his liver-spotted hands, I quickly sidestepped him. I'd lugged the thing this far, I could carry it the last few feet without dumping it on an old man who must surely be even more of a weakling than I was! But Mr. Stevens gave me such a stern and un-old-mannish look that in the end I let him take the suitcase and stuffed my hands in my jacket pockets instead. And indeed, the weight of our luggage seemed to give him no trouble at all.
"Wow," I gasped the moment we stepped in out of the rain.
The entrance hall to the mansion was bigger than our entire flat. When you stepped into our hallway at home, you found yourself in a dark, narrow tunnel with ancient daisy-patterned wallpaper peeling off the walls. Alexis had tried to spruce it up a bit with a beaded curtain and an indoor palm tree but the tower block apartment remained stubbornly unglamorous. The living room, which also served as Alexis's bedroom, the kitchen with its '70s tiles, the bathroom, and my bedroom, where the carpet had bunched up with age — they all felt like boxes. Concrete boxes with tiny windows, in which even bookshelves and colorful polka-dot teapots couldn't counteract the gray.
My grandmother's hallway, on the other hand, was incredible. The ceiling arched so high above our heads that looking up at the paintings on it almost made me dizzy. Instead of fat naked angels on clouds and other such popular motifs, the artist had painted pictures of people with books. Some of them were reading, some were pointing toward bulging bookcases, and others had placed open books across their faces. Interspersed with the pictures of people, the same coat of arms appeared again and again: a green stag with huge antlers, perched proudly atop a pile of books against a wine-red background. A chandelier hung at the center of the entrance hall, its arms made up of strings of golden letters. Matching lamps were mounted at regular intervals along the wood-paneled walls, and between them were more stag coats of arms. The floor was spread with brightly colored Oriental rugs, with letters woven into them that I'd never seen before, and on the opposite wall a staircase swept upward, its oak banister fashioned from carved books. It was just possible I'd inherited my love of reading from my grandmother, I reflected.
"Follow me, if you please. I shall attend to your luggage shortly," said Mr. Stevens. For a man of his age, his back was remarkably straight, and his polished shoes made not the slightest sound on the opulent rugs.
Excerpted from The Book Jumper by Mechthild Gläser, Romy Fursland. Copyright © 2015 Mechthild Gläser. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1 ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS AN ISLAND,
2 THE SECRET LIBRARY,
3 CHEWING GUM FOR OLIVER TWIST,
4 BETWEEN THE LINES,
5 IN SEARCH OF THE WHITE RABBIT,
6 THE GREAT FIRE,
8 A CHANGE IN THE WEATHER,
9 THE CHASE,
10 VISITORS TO LENNOX HOUSE,
11 THE CHILD ON THE MOOR,
12 A MIDWINTER NIGHT'S DREAM,
13 SHAKESPEARE'S SEAT,
15 THE FORGOTTEN GIRL,
16 THE PRINCESS,
17 THE MONSTER,
18 THE KNIGHT,
19 THE END,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I’ll be honest, I totally judged this book by its cover…and I was right! This book was very creative and is basically a bibliophile’s dream. What book lover hasn’t wished at some point that he or she could jump into the book of his or her choice? (A trip to Hogwarts anyone?) Mechthild’s protagonist is a teenager named Amy. Anyone who ever had a rough time in high school will relate to Amy and her adolescent woes. Add a mansion on an island, an ancient hidden library, distant relatives who seem to be guarding family secrets, oh and the ability to jump inside books, and I was hooked! Also featured are Amy’s mother, grandmother, and of course a potential love interest, Will, and the mean girl, Betsy. All of these characters’ lives intertwine in what starts out to be an adventure for Amy but quickly turns into a matter of life or death. There is a mystery woven throughout the story, which I enjoyed unraveling. I also loved all of the classic stories and characters that Mechthild wove into the story by combining the “real” world with the literary world. Several classic stories and famous book characters are mentioned throughout this book, and I think readers will enjoy the book more if they are familiar with at least some of them (Sherlock Holmes, Shakespeare, The Sorrows of Young Werther, Oliver Twist), though I think you can enjoy the book even if you are not. Read full review at KaitsBookshelf.com
HONESTLY, one of the best books I've ever read. Which is rare because I usually can't ever remember "that book" or "that book." POINT IS: I've read so many books and this has honestly been one of the best. I definitely recommend buying this book.
AudioBook Review: Stars: 4 Narration 5 Story 4 A treasure of a story with an amazing premise sure to tickle the fancy of every reader out there: Gläser’s story is not without issues, but I’m torn between wondering how much do they actually matter to the feel of the story, and did the blurb promise something that was, ultimately, unimportant. Amy Lennox and her mother Alexis live in Germany, away from the little Scottish island where Alexis grew up. When her mother decides that they will return to Scotland after a bad breakup, the story starts to take interesting twists. See, there are only two families on Stormsay: Lennox and Macalister, and in a convenient device, they don’t get along. But it is Amy’s grandmother Mairead who insists that Amy read – in ways that only those on Stormsay can: by jumping. Book Jumping: what a lovely way to spark imagination and show the joys of being lost in a story. Amy is in the books she reads: interacting with the stories as if she were written in. If you’ve ever been a reader who loses track of time, thinks about the characters after the last page, or even finds (or found) yourself imagining your place and actions in a fictional world: these moments are sparkling examples of deft writing, plotting and imagination. Gläser excels in the creation of Amy and her discoveries: her point of view and approach are spot-on, she melds with the stories she inhabits and shares that magic with everyone. Yet there were problems: the mystery hinted at in the synopsis was quickly and rather conveniently resolved, even as the ideas behind the thefts from the story were cleverly placed and offered plenty of options to drop clues and misdirect those intent on solving the mystery. Amy’s mother Alexis, is described as young but what is missing from her is the empathy gene. Spoilt and rather cold, she’s not particularly endearing – a trait that works well to show Amy’s desire to retreat in books and hints at a general unfitness for parenthood and a happy life. Other characters appear and disappear at random, and the underlying tension from the Lennox / Macalister struggles and competition wind through, adding a bit of misdirection that ultimately remains rather nebulous in the impression. Narration for this story is provided by Mary Sarah, and I think I have found a new favorite! Her ability to present appropriate accents, distinguish characters and allow the moments to take center stage without over-working emotions or tone gave the story a sense of solidity and presence. Amy becomes real and tangible with the combination of writing and performance, and her approach to each new adventure carries a sense of excitement and wonder. Each character is presented clearly, bringing the listener the ability to understand and feel what each is to bring to the story. Dangerous or questionable intentions are easy to recognize, as are the excitement and wonder woven through the story. A favorite listen for me for the writing and promise in the concept, the sense of Amy and her journey and the clear presentation that kept me engaged and hanging on every word. I received an AudioBook copy of the title from Tantor Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
I read this book for fun and I have no regrets. This story brings together the world of fiction to a character many can relate to. overall an awesome book, would recommended.
While this book was a fun, magical ride, it also didn’t really impress me that much. The premise is super unique, as the main character Amy discovers that she can jump into the stories of books, and her family has a duty to preserve those stories. The setting is on a picturesque island, away from the advanced technology of the modern ages. Despite these fun additions, I couldn’t really connect to the characters (as quirky as they were) and I felt like the author could have made them more empathetic, and develop other aspects that she implemented, such as the family dynamics and romance. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable read while it lasted, yet not something I’d reread. I really feel like I would have enjoyed this book if I were a couple years younger. It reads a lot more like an MG novel, but nonetheless I still thought it was a magical and fun ride. The resolution was pretty satisfying, although leaves some ideas rather open-ended. The relationship dynamics, stemming from friendship to romance to family, could have been expanded on in my opinion, but the central mystery, magic plot was definitely worth the read. Fantasy readers looking for a light, fun adventure should pick this one up!
THE BOOK JUMPER was a mellow, fun read for me. I believe readers who like literary fan fiction and fantasy will want to read this book. For me, the book was interesting, but lacked the overall excitement it had the potential for. I was exited to see what book Amy would jump into and with whom she would interact with, but I was left a little disappointed when I realized that the characters she interacted with were basically actors in a play and when the curtain went down they had different personalities then what we would traditionally read. This book did have a good mystery that had me guessing who was stealing from the stories and why they were after Amy, but I was aggravated when Amy and her love interest Will kept letting their suspects get away. The ending of the story fell flat as it felt rushed and left me with a lot of unanswered questions.
Every bibliophile has wanted to step into their favorite book occasionally, if nothing else to watch the story unfold before their eyes. And Mechthild Gläser clearly knows this, because she wrote an entire book that revels in the idea of entering and interacting with the characters and worlds of various (public domain) books. "The Book Jumper" blends together elements of fantasy, mystery and romance into a single whimsical little tale, all about a girl who does what every devoted reader secretly wants to do. Fleeing their personal woes in Germany, Amy Lennox and her mother Alexis travel to the Scottish isle of Stormsay, where Amy's grandmother Lady Mairead Lennox holds court in a vast manor house. Lady Mairead is all too willing to welcome them there... but only if Amy agrees to read while she stays at Lennox House. And soon, Amy finds out what that means -- she is a book jumper, who has the power to leap into the stories that she reads. Then a body washes up on shore -- it's Sherlock Holmes from "The Hound of the Baskervilles," who was a personal friend of fellow book jumper Will. And he's been murdered. At the same time, the books are being ravaged by a thief who is stealing the fundamental ideas of them -- the White Rabbit, the Little Prince's rose, Dorothy's cyclone, a monster from "The Odyssey," and so on. But to uncover the identity of the thief, Amy must dig up the old secrets of Stormsay, and place herself in deadly danger. "The Book Jumper" is a book that rides on a wave of whimsy and bibliophilia, almost like a young-adult version of "Inkheart" in reverse. Mechthild Gläser was clearly having a blast when she wrote this story, especially in crafting a sort of all-books dimension where characters hang out together in an in-between zone (such as Young Werther being tormented by the hags from "Macbeth"), drinking ink and fully aware of their status as fictional characters. And Gläser writes in a style that befits that kind of story: breezy, nimble and overflowing with affection for the books that Amy loves enough to jump into. However, she also makes her story grow progressively darker after the halfway point, with the stakes becoming far more serious than missing fictional elements -- there are stabbings, thefts of a burned manuscript, and a chilling climax that ties together most of the plot threads in a bittersweet fashion. However, the book is rather fuzzy about some of the details -- for instance, we never hear what the book-jumpers are protecting the literature FROM (termites? Damp?), and the rather abrupt ending leaves (really, it could have used a few more chapters) some dangling plot threads (such as the financial woes of both clans, and the question of whether Amy and Alexis will leave the island). Amy is a pretty likable heroine whom any reader will probably identify with -- she's awkward and bookish, and currently still smarting from a social-media-based betrayal involving nude pictures. Her mother Alexis sort of fades in significance when the other book jumpers appear -- bratty Betsy and Will, a boy tormented by his own mistakes in book-jumping. There's also the comic relief in the form of Werther, who pines after Amy but also seems to have a good heart under his moping and prissiness. "The Book Jumper" is a fantasy-romance for people who adore books -- not just the experience of reading them, but the characters and the vicarious experiences. For bibliophiliacs who love a little whimsy.
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review. Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for the opportunity to read and review The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser! This translated book begins with Amy and her mom, Alexis, packing for a trip to a Scottish Island for a well deserved break. Alexis is from this island and her mother lives there and that's where they will be staying. Amy's family has a special gift that her mother has kept a secret until now. The Lennox family, along with the neighboring family that also inhabits the island, are book jumpers. Book jumping is both of their family's legacy and responsibility. They book jump to keep the stories and characters in line and to keep the plots from going astray. Amy, Betsy and Will book jump to solve the mystery of why stories have all of a sudden become unpredictable. They discover that the ideas are being stolen from several different stories, but they don't know why or by whom. I enjoyed how the author brought literary classics into the story with the details readers know and love and also used these stories as the main point of the mystery. The Book Jumper is a refreshing read with characters to love and characters to hate, as well as an imaginative plot, some romance and suspense - 4.5 stars!