Going Back for Jojo by Carrie Beamer

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SKU 978-0-3695-0978-9

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Returning to 1981 to save your brother who has eaten himself into a confinement cell—also known as his bedroom—has unforeseen consequences that lands Dessy Ortega in an epic mess.

After a dirty tackle shatters his leg along with his football dreams, Jojo Ortega finds himself drowning in an ocean of hopelessness and junk food. Retreating into his room to hide from the life of popularity that he once knew, he seeks comfort in junk food and endless games of Donkey Kong.

As Dessy stumbles upon the freakish power of her rusty backyard swing set that transports her through time, she realizes that she holds the key to altering her brother's dire fate. However, this power comes with a devastating cost. To save Jojo, Dessy must sacrifice her own relationship with Frankie, her long-time love since freshman year. Rewinding time will erase her from Frankie's memory.

Each journey through time, Dessy unravels layers of self-discovery, family secrets, and the boundless strength of love.

14+ due to adult situations



The decision to give my older brother, Jojo, a second chance at life rested heavily on my shoulders as I grappled with the enormity of the power I held. Haunting thoughts of his months spent unable to venture beyond the confines of his bedroom plagued me like nothing ever had before, and the idea of reversing the course of time, transporting him back to a point in his life where he hadn’t eaten himself into a prison, terrified me.

The night I discovered I could change the misfortune crushing my brother’s very spirit was brought about by Ponyboy, my always under your feet, devious cat. As anyone who has crossed paths with this sly creature knows, he possesses an astonishing knack for weaving himself between our feet at the most inopportune times, causing us to falter and lose our footing, often resulting in spilled drinks or dropped objects.

 It’s a devious game he seems to relish, and I have no doubt that he takes great pleasure in our misery, cackling like the crazy mastermind he is as we stumble and fall. Little did I know that his evil shenanigans would lead me to discover the miraculous power that would change the course of my life.

As I carefully prepared to take a heaping plate of piping hot spaghetti up to my brother’s room, my brain consumed with the task ahead, I was suddenly under attack. A whirl of flying noodles and sauce, courtesy of the cunning tactics of Ponyboy went everywhere. The once semi-clean kitchen was now a chaotic scene of red splattered cabinets and puddles of sauce resembling a murder scene straight out of a horror film. Somehow the dang cat escaped the kitchen without a drop of tomato sauce on his plush fur.

He was good, real good.

Overwhelmed and wanting to strangle Pony, I abandoned my mission to get Jojo his dinner and went outside for some fresh air. As I settled into the well-worn, plastic seat of the dilapidated swing set in my backyard, I was greeted by the creaking of its rusty chains. Even though my shirt was drenched in sauce, the swing set seemed like the ideal spot to find solace from the chaos I’d just left in the kitchen.

The swing set was gifted to me and Jojo by our parents when I was around six or seven years old. We’d barely used it, except for the occasional slide ride, which served as a makeshift ramp to race our Hot Wheel cars down. We preferred to explore the streets surrounding our neighborhood, instead of remaining stuck to the backyard where we felt like we were being watched. In our young minds, swing sets were for babies, and by God we were grown. Looking back, we were too young to be traipsing all over our neighborhood, but that’s just what kids did, and we had the time of our lives doing it.

I pumped my legs back and forth, grasping tightly onto the chilly, metallic chains with both hands. I was surprised how much I loved the sensation of soaring into the moonlit sky. It gave me a sense of freedom to have the crisp, night breeze coursing through my short hair, causing my eyes to water and my nose to drip. The dizzying effect that washed over me every time I propelled myself forward into the open air was exhilarating. How could I have neglected this vessel of joy my whole childhood? A small, involuntary grin crept across my face as I gingerly wiped away the remnants of tomato sauce, dotted across my forehead, with my soggy sleeve.

From my vantage point, I was able to catch a glimpse of my brother engrossed in playing Duck Hunt in his bedroom. The sight of him gnawing on his tongue and maniacally pointing the bright orange, fake gun at the television screen in order to eliminate every airborne duck was alarming to witness. It was clear to me that Nintendo had hit the jackpot with this new ploy to trap boys into the all-consuming realm of video games. What would they think of next?

About my ninth or tenth catapult into the sky, just as my thoughts drifted to the unavoidable cleanup that was waiting for me inside the house, I yearned to return to the minute before the spaghetti storm had erupted in the kitchen.

Suddenly, and without warning, I felt a strange disturbance beneath me. The ground appeared to quiver slightly, causing the sturdy poles of the swing set—that had been stuck in the ground for the past decade—to lift just a bit. With my feet dangling several feet above the grass below, I was unable to see anything unusual happening, but I felt it. The weirdness didn’t last long, but I definitely knew something strange was going on. I dragged my sock-clad feet through the overgrown lawn to stop myself as I scanned the yard for any signs of the bizarre shaking. Nothing seemed out of place, and the weird rumble I’d just experienced appeared to have vanished into thin air.

Jumping off the swing, I scurried up the back-patio steps. My body felt like it had been through something odd, but I had no idea how to explain it. It was like when you jump on a trampoline for too long and get off. You feel off balance and somewhat weird, but nothing is wrong with you. Tripping on the loose top step, I stumbled into the screen door. It swung open and delivered me onto the kitchen floor. I almost landed on Ponyboy, whose screeching meow let me know he was appalled at my entrance even though he’d caused this whole disaster in the first place.

My whole body was in a state of panic.

To my surprise, I wasn’t sitting in the mess that was there not even ten minutes ago, and the spaghetti was still boiling away in the pot on the stove. My heart slammed into my throat when I looked down and saw that, to my utter amazement, my shirt was entirely spotless. I looked around our cozy kitchen with its olive green, painted cabinets and our sturdy, oak kitchen table that belonged to my grandmother before we inherited it. Everything looked seemingly undisturbed, with no indications of the mayhem that had taken place only moments earlier.