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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Review: Riding Invisible (Alonzo)

Title: Riding Invisible
Author: Alonzo
Genre: Fiction, Adventure, Survival
Pages: 240
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

15-year-old Yancy has been growing up in the shadow of his older brother Will...an older brother with a major anger management problem.  Though his parents have been trying to get help for Will, and the family, the situation is escalating.  Will torments Yancy and is threatening to kill Yancy's horse Shy, describing his intended action in graphic detail.  Fearing for the life of his horse, and his own, Yancy takes Shy and runs away.  In case he gets "killed on the trail," Yancy details his journey in a journal.

"Riding Invisible" is that journal, a mix of graphics and dated entries chronicling Yancy's runaway adventure.  With only a backpack, a flashlight, his horse, and the journal, Yancy takes to the California desert hoping to find safety. There, he discovers what it is like being homeless, and meets Tavo, a farm laborer from Mexico who "rescues" him. 

Alonzo has created a cast of very real characters.  Yancy is a likable narrator, with very real worries.  Even if your brother is not a sociopath, you can relate to his family's dysfunction.  When he escapes, taking matters into his own hands, he wants to be strong.  But when he describes his family, you know that he is scared and feels invisible.  You will root for Yancy to save himself...and Shy.  But he cannot do it alone.  And when he meets Tavo, who takes him in and finds him work on a horse ranch, you begin to have hope that Yancy will find family and understanding at last.

As a parent, I could also understand the pain of Yancy's family.  How do you deal with one child so clearly in need of help and yet help your other child also?  It is a tough balance and there are no easy answers.  And that is what I like about this book.  If you read "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian" by Sherman Alexie, you will definitely enjoy this book, by a debut author.  However, I hope that you will pick this book up because you want a story about a wonderful character on the runaway adventure of a lifetime...and for his life.

Nominated for the 2011 Best Fiction award (BFYA), this is one strong title!

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