by Anna Banks
Age Range: 12 - 18 years
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (June 2, 2015)
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Who says opposites don't attract?
It's been several years since Carly Vega's parents were deported. Carly lives with her older brother, studies hard, and works the graveyard shift at a convenience store to earn enough to bring her parents back from Mexico.
Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He used to date popular blondes and have fun pranking with his older sister. But now all that's changed, and Arden needs a new accomplice. Especially one his father, the town sheriff, will disapprove.
All Carly wants, at first, is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to not do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they've been living according to the wishes of others. Carly and Arden's journey toward their true hearts - and one another-- is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh. Just like real life.
Anna Banks does it again with her latest story, Joyride. This is the story of Carly Vega, a pragmatic, 16-year-old Mexican-American girl who spends all of her waking hours either going to school or working dead end jobs to save up money to sneak her parents and younger siblings into the country. It is also the story of Arden Moss, local golden boy and son of Sheriff Moss, the biggest, baddest racist in all of Houghlin County. After a misunderstanding with not one but two shotguns, Arden and Carly and their lives are never the same.
I had a hard time liking Arden or even caring what happens to him. Why? Arden is a privileged and clueless prick who got away with being the bully in school and all around town. He chose to skirt his responsibilities to chase the fun of pranking people and causing trouble. He is not held accountable for anything, ever, simply because of who his dad is. When he officially meets Carly, he learns she does not put up with crap, yet her true nature is to be shy and timid. Arden instantly falls for her and wants her to be his “side kick”. At that point, it almost felt like insta-love and I was close to tapping out. The two characters did develop as the story went along, discovering who they were and what was important to them.
Little things throughout the story bothered me. Such as Arden describing Carly’s eyes in food terms or the fact that Arden’s POV was 3rd person and Carly’s was 1st. Sometimes it was things Carly did that didn’t make sense. Such as how she talked about how “Americans” do this or that, when she herself is American. Or how Arden’s snarky response to Carly’s apology for his sister’s death made her like him more. Sometimes it was weird narrative choices like how on one page Julio successfully guilted Carly into keeping all of her work shifts and then literally on the very next page she’s not only cut shifts but has also withheld earnings to buy herself treats.
Overall, this was a fast-paced story and it carried a serious tone of racism and immigration, which is a tough subject in general. I felt the story was real in the aspect that it gave a glimpse into the daily struggle of teenagers who have had their parents deported for being illegal and the steps they go to in order to bring their family back together. I found myself liking the story in the end but I did not like or believe how quickly Arden and Carly got together and how much Arden depended on Carly for reassurance. Things between those two just didn’t totally jive with me. That seemed rushed to me. No matter what, I would still recommend this book to everyone as I may be alone in my thought processes. It was a sweet book but the serious tones might scare some people away. I really hope that isn’t the case. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars, mainly because I like how brave Anna Banks is for talking about this touchy subject and not shying away from it.