Its 1983 and Sam has leapt into a
very smart but troubled junior high student. The
young man is part of Odyssey of the Mind, a program for gifted students that is about to
be axed. The students in the program will be
devastated if the program doesnt continue, so Sam is there to prevent it from being
shut down. He also finds out he needs to
make things right for his host and his mom. But
can Sam get anyone to listen to who they believe to be a 12-year-old kid?
Person Leapt Into
Penworth, New York.
The staff at the Project has a hard time getting Sean to stay in the waiting room. He doesnt like being cooped up, is curious
about the Project and wants to see where he is. Ultimately
though, Al and Dr. Beeks help him deal with some of his issues and understand what is
happening to him.
We get some information on the challenges Sam had when he was in junior high and high
We see Sams skill as a doctor when he helps Seans
Sam associates New York with New York City; hes discovering
New York State is a whole different world.
We get some background on Al and how he got the education that eventually led to him
working with Sam. The author explores
the issues that influenced his getting married five times.
Despite some initial hesitation, Al actually does well connecting with Sean, and he
and Sean do have quite a bit in common.
One of the kids in the Odyssey of the Mind program turns out to be someone with a
connection to the Project.
Sam leapt into kids in The Camakazi Kid, Runaway, 8-1/2 Months
King Thunder from Glitter Rock is mentioned.
References are made to The Play is The Thing, Catch a Falling
Star, Genesis, Star Crossed, Honeymoon Express and The Americanization of
Machikoi.e., Sam vaguely remembers being in a play, and he appears to remember
leaping into the husbands of several women, and seeing Donna when she was in college.
Sam, Al and Ziggy.
The support staff at the Project-Tina, Donna, Gooshie, Dr. Beeks and Sammie Jo. In the leap: The kids in the program (and
their families) Chrissi Martinez, Johnny Metz, Peter (Pigeon) Janowski, and Sarah Easton. The president of the school board, Regina
(Gina) Fairgate has an important role in the book.
Guest character notes
(interesting info about those who appeared in the novel)
All the kids have issues, mainly because their families are dysfunctional. Chrissis parents are divorced and her
father marries a young woman who used to babysit Chrissi.
Pigeon lost his parents in an accident and is being raised by his elderly
grandmother. Johnny has a reasonably stable
family, but is coping with the possibility of ending up at a private school where he is
cut off from his friends. Sarahs
parents seem to be focused on their own interests. However,
their families do help out and take a stand against shutting down the program. I especially like the way Kathleen OConnor
gets her act together for the benefit of her son. Gina
Fairgate, who is instrumental in cutting the Odyssey program, is a real piece of work. She does end up making things right in the
Characters who appeared
in QL TV episodes
Chrissi turns out to be someone familiar to Al and Sam.
The Project support staff is mentioned in a number of QL episodes and we get
glimpses of them and the Project in Genesis, Honeymoon Express, Star Crossed, Killin
Time, The Leap Back, the Trilogy and Mirror Image.
This is an entertaining story that has Sam and Al dealing with some smart but troubled
kids. Barbara gives us some background
on Tina, who was only a supporting character on the show.
Its interesting to have someone we didnt see a lot of in the show have
a key role in the book. The story makes a
good statement about parents and schools working together to help kids succeed and having
programs like Odyssey of the Mind to encourage their creativity. The authors take on the nonsense that
happened (and still happens) with school programs and budgets is pretty accurate. There is a good message about taking
responsibility for your own behavior and making good choices, which I dont think
kids hear enough of these days. Of course,
there are plenty of adults who dont understand that concept also. However, I think a lot of problems could be
avoided if kids were taught they are responsible for their choices at an early age. I like the way the author references QL episodes
by having Sam remember bits and pieces from different leaps too. She doesnt name
specific characters from the T.V. episodes. Its
very subtle, but there is enough information that alert QL fans will know what episodes
Sam is thinking about. I also like the fact
the story is set in a small town in New York State.
Many people associate New York with the city (as Sam appears to) but that
isnt all there is to New York. New
York State is beautiful, especially near Niagara Falls.
(Al talking to Sean in the waiting room)
I didnt get divorced four-no, five, Ill admit
five-times because my mom dumped me at an impressionable age. I dont cheat on my wives or my girlfriend
because I feel abandoned. And I dont
drink too much because my father died when I was ten.
I do all of those things because I made bad choices.
That has to be when Al and Sam realize Chrissi, who is 11 in this Leap, is someone they
know. The way the author works Tina into the
story is very clever.
I love it too when Gina is called on her crapand at a board
meeting no less. What better payback than to
be confronted during a public meeting with the evidence?
Although the line above from Al is a good one, I dont recall anything in the show
about Al cheating on his wives. He did cheat
on Tina (and Tina cheated on him too) but that was partly for laughs and to have the
contrast between Al and Sam. The point is we are responsible for our choices, so I
wont be too nitpicky about it.
(Sam and Al talking when Al is filling Sam in about what he is supposed to be doing).
Sam: Since when are
you such an expert on adolescent girls?
Al: Well, I admit
Im not dating one at the moment
Sam: Will you cut
Al: After the
cracks youve made about some of the women I hang out with? Not a chance, buddy.
(Sam/Sean talking to Seans mother Kathleen as she recovers
from a drinking binge).
Sam: If you go into
acute withdrawal, I want to be here to call an ambulance.
withdrawal? What, have you been watching Emergency! reruns?
Sam: Uh, yeah.