Monday, January 27, 2014

Full Ride by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Genre: Contemporary
Rating: *****
Pages: 352
Becca Jones has spent the last four years keeping her head down. The summer before she started high school, Becca's dad was caught embezzling and used her as an excuse. "How is a guy like me supposed to put his kid through college?" Becca knows the only way to get into college is hard work. Now she's a senior with a 4.0 and no close friends. But that might not be enough. Once she was a millionaire's daughter. Now she's "at risk"-the daughter of a single mom living below the poverty in a dusty apartment.
Her only chance may be the Whitney Court Scholarship. Write an essay about a student who graduated from her school the same year as Whitney Court and win a full ride. But what happened to Whitney after graduation, and why won't anyone in town talk about it?
As Becca's deadlines creep closer her chance at college grows dimmer. Loneliness, stress, and haunting memories of her father tear her life apart. But her father might be the only person who can show her how to move forward in life-and what happened to Whitney.
It's always bothered me when characters casually describe themselves as straight-A students. If you have a 4.0,  you suffer for it. You don't have time for wild parties, hilarious dates, and quirky friendships. Your life is school. That's why it's so hard for me to take contemporary novels seriously. Full Ride is the first novel I've found that provides a rare, realistic view into high school life.
Some readers may be turned off by the lack of action in this story. Or romance. It's the story of a girl who struggles with the pressures of academics and shuts out her friends. But for other readers, it will ring true. This is a book for anyone who has curled up sobbing under a computer desk at 3:00 A.M. because they've got a report due in four hours. This is a book for the AP student, the honors student, the just-scraping-by-with-a-C+ student. Some may call Becca weak or whiny because the biggest challenge in her life is school. But to the readers who have never slayed a dragon or saved a planet, that's challenge enough. It's hard not to feel for her.

Top Quote: "Most people couldn't be rich if they wanted to be honest; most people couldn't be honest if they wanted to be rich.” 

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