Joyride by Anna Banks

JoyrideJoyride by Anna Banks

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

I received this title in return for an honest review. Many thanks to Macmillan Publishing for offering me a chance to review it.

Joyride is the first book I’ve read by Anna Banks and I suspect I’ll be reading more of her work in the future as I enjoyed this one!

Joyride follows in the shadow of Carly Vega, a 17-year-old Mexican American (1st person) who is working herself into the ground in an attempt to fund the illegal return of her parents (and her two twin siblings) to the States. Along with her single minded (and somewhat strict) older brother Julio, Carly lives in a trailer park with other immigrant workers, who form a tight-knit, if not gossip-laden, group.

We also follow former golden boy and football heartthrob, Arden Moss, who has dumped his grades, the pigskin, and his good sense in favor of pranking half the town’s morally corrupt characters. He is the son of the town Sheriff, a cold-hearted bastard whose political platform is based on deporting illegal workers (like Carly’s folks, who got tossed back to Mexico when she was fourteen). Arden’s chapters are written in 3rd person, which threw me for a bit until I got used to it.

“Moss” hates his father because of the way he treated his older, mentally ill sister who overdosed. He blames his father for locking her away, taking away her friends, and basically trying to keep her a secret for the benefit of his political aspirations. In an attempt to keep his sister’s memory alive and to piss off his father, Moss spends his evenings pranking people, but one such night lands him nose-to-shotgun with Carly Vega, night clerk at the Breeze Mart.

Moss is floored by her bravery and soon becomes obsessed with her, determined to make her his accomplice in nighttime fun. He finds her a new job that pays more money and encourages Carly to live a little and not work so much. In turn, Carly straightens out Moss, who focuses more on his schoolwork and helping his Uncle Cletus.

I loved Carly in this story, especially how Banks portrays the mindset of a teenage Mexican girl who is trapped by duty to a family who only sees the value of a dollar and not an education. This contrasts sharply with Carly’s American side, which screams that she needs a chance to find her youth. Banks succeeds in effortlessly portraying the sad reality of so many migrant families in the USA who come here for freedom, only to find themselves a slave to their station in life and the burden of a wealthier form of poverty.

Honestly, I loved the whole novel . . . though the ending was just a bit far fetched for me. Teens, however, will devour the story of Carly and her boy, Moss, and the awesome, scene-stealing Uncle Cletus.

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