by Anna Banks
Feiwel and Friends, 2015. 278 pgs. Young Adult
Ever since her parents were deported to Mexico, Carly Vega's kept her head down and her nose clean. Between her dreams of attending college, a late-night convenience store job, and a family in need of every dollar she can earn, Carly doesn't have a lot of anything left over, especially money and time.
But when she stops a robbery outside the convenience store, her path collides with that of Arden Moss: The handsome, wealthy, popular Anglo son of the local sheriff (also known as the man who won his office campaigning on an anti-immigration platform). When Arden confesses the robbery was an ill-conceived attempt to prevent his uncle's drunk driving, Carly can't help the empathy she feels for Arden and for his uncle. And once Arden discovers Carly's tough, ballsy streak, he decides that she can fill the hole his beloved sister left behind when she committed suicide. But Carly's suspicious of the boy with a racist father and more money in his back pocket than she makes in a week, and less than thrilled about trying to squeeze him into her packed schedule.
Eventually, Arden convinces Carly to join him on the pranking spree of a lifetime, which turns into a humorous yet heart-wrenching journey to the things that matter most.
Joyride tackles a lot of big issues: Immigration, racism, socioeconomic disparity, rogue police officers, and family disputes abound in the novel, but Banks handles them with grace, care, and humor. Banks deftly handles Carly's first-person narrative and Arden's third, and both characters bound off the pages and demand the reader's empathy for different reasons. I don't often read contemporary YA novels, and I certainly don't read a lot of romances; but I enjoyed this book immensely, particularly Banks' sensitive portrait of a young Latina girl struggling between her family's needs and her own. Recommended.