Book Review: ‘Joyride’ by Anna Banks

October 16, 2015     Holly     Reviews

Book Review: ‘Joyride’ by Anna BanksJoyride by Anna Banks
Published by Feiwel & Friends on June 2, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Social Issues
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
4 Stars

A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber's mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants 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 others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.

I’d never picked up a novel by Anna Banks before Joyride, and to be honest I was mainly drawn in by the cover alone, but now that I’ve lived in the world of Carly Vega and Arden Moss, I think I’ll be looking up more of Banks’ work.

When I began to read Joyride, I wasn’t sure how I was going to relate to 17-year-old Carly and her situation, much less be able to see her story from a vantage point where I’d be able to sympathize with her situation. But as I read more and more about Carly’s struggle to balance her loyalty to her family in Mexico and to her hardworking brother, versus her desire to continue her education and enjoy her youth as most American teens do, I came to realize that while I couldn’t sympathize with Carly, I could admire her.

Because Carly’s character in Joyride is someone for readers to admire, without a doubt. She’s hardworking, studious, driven, and compassionate. Her moments with Cletus in the beginning of the novel are so sweet and heartwarming that you immediately want everything to work out for this girl, regardless of what happens to everyone else. She is a wonderful example of what so many immigrant families struggle with when they come to America. And expectation of freedom that quickly gets overtaken by the reality of a harsh economy that is not kind to “outsiders” of any sort.

Arden is a little more…expected, which is altogether not a good or bad thing. Where Carly is vivid and colorful in her growth as a character, Arden follows the stereotypical path of a good guy who witnessed tragedy in his life and acted out his grief by being the exact opposite of what his parents want him to be. Often times, it felt like his character was overly childish and immature, much more so than was necessary to provide the desired escape for Carly to channel some of her own youthful ambitions. I liked Arden, but I feel like he could have been so much more in Joyride, and could have complimented Carly much better as a whole.

And, sadly, while I found the ending to be quite predictable and a little unsatisfying, I can’t knock the book as a whole. Carly made the story worthwhile for me. She was a wonderful first person narrator and provided a life to the story that is hard to match.

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