Jensen was well known for the children in danger genre, and this is a prime example of that. The book kicks off with an idyllic family, wealthy with beautiful children. Until the father, Alex, kills himself. Or did he? Their mother, Amanda, who has a troubled history of foster care and failed marriages before finding true love with Alex, is traumatized by his death. So, she tries hiring a fully time nanny/companion named Rachel. A woman who is also disturbed by the recent breakup of her marriage and loss of an unborn child due to a terrible car accident.
Initially she says no because of what she thinks is a disturbing hallucination but that turns out to be something else. When she sees on the news that the eldest daughter of the family has been murdered on the front lawn of the estate, she changes her mind and decides she needs to protect the children. But from what? That is the interesting part that I won’t spoil here. There are some twists and turns as well as a good supernatural angle that I found satisfying. In the end Rachel does figure it all out but not before a horrible cost has been paid.
The book doesn’t shy away from violence, but also doesn’t linger on it. Much of the mayhem is directed at children so it could have been disturbing, too much so. But Jensen walks that tightrope nicely giving you just enough to be creeped out without going far enough to lose the reader. That said if you don’t like children put in danger and violence towards them in your fiction then you won’t be wanting to read Jump Rope. The connection to the kids and caring about what happens to them is the emotional core of the book.
If I had one complaint it was the ending. Things are tied up nicely without a whole lot of explanation. We do get a happy ending due to some rather trite after the fact explanation. The person responsible for the killings gets off a bit easy as their comeuppance happens in a matter of a couple of paragraphs. It isn’t even explained why things were resolved in the way they were. Again, I’m being a bit vague here so as not to ruin the ending. I’m doing so because despite what I just wrote the good far outweigh the bad and I’m going to recommend Jump Rope. It really is a great book, and I will be reading more Ruby Jean Jensen soon.
© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer
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