I picked up Leap because the cover, with it’s tiger stripes on midnight blue, kept jumping out at me. Jones is a Melbourne writer and Leap is on the Victorian State Library’s list of Summer Reads.
Leap deals with grief through an intertwining of two connected stories both set in Melbourne. Joe, in his early twenties, has paused his life due to regret and loss. He lives in a share house and keeps busy with his job in a restaurant, mentoring a young person, and training in parkour. On the other side of the city, empty-nester Elise’s marriage is breaking down but she finds solace in watching the tigers at the zoo.
The prose is clean and the book reads quickly. The relationships in the book are engaging and complex though I sometimes found the characterisation a little thin. We understand characters mostly through other character’s eyes, which fairly frequently led to my having revise my picture of a character well into the book. But perhaps this is intentional.
I had the sense that I was reading a book set as a high school text and I can’t quite put my finger on why. It’s not that the characters are young adults, but somehow the view of the world the book adopts seemed to fit that mold. Perhaps this is because Joe has been held in a sort of suspended adolescence due to his loss of his girlfriend in his own final year at high school.
I think Leap is probably quite a good selection for the Summer Reads program – it is clear, it reads quickly and is set locally – but it is not quite my type of book. I felt it wanted to manipulate me and I didn’t particularly enjoy the sense I got, about a third of the way in, of being ahead of where the author wanted me to be in understanding how the two worlds fit together. I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I had encountered it when I was in high school or perhaps my early twenties. That said Jones’ prose is skillful and her flair for storytelling is clear. I’ll be interested to see what she writes next.