Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Fiction Review: She Rides Shotgun

While listening to the Book Cougars podcast (a good one - check it out!) yesterday, the hosts were discussing the 2018 Edgar Awards, annual literary awards given to mystery, suspense, crime, and thriller books. I was excited to hear that She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper won the award for Best New Novel. I recently listened to this original and suspenseful book on audio, and I absolutely loved it.

Eleven-year old Polly hasn't seen her father in more than five years, but she recognizes him instantly when he shows up at her school at the end of the day; he has the same eyes as Polly, a faded blue color her mother calls gunfighter eyes. Nate has been in prison for years, but now - without warning - he's here to pick Polly up. It soon becomes clear that they are both in danger. Nate made some powerful enemies in prison, and now there are hits out on him, his ex-wife, and his daughter. Nate already found his ex-wife and her new husband dead in their home, so he grabs Polly and goes on the run to keep her safe. Gradually, father and daughter get to know each other, as Nate trains Polly so she can defend herself and teaches her how to rob so they can support themselves. The bond between them grows as those looking for them - both the criminals and the police - close in.

I loved every minute of this audio book and raced through it in record time. It's a fast-paced thriller, with plenty of action and suspense, but it's also a moving portrayal of the relationship between Polly and her dad. While I adored Polly and learned to like Nate from the way he cared about her, my favorite character was Polly's teddy bear, simply known as the bear. Painfully shy, Polly knows she is too old for teddy bears, but he is a friend to her. Through years of practice, she has learned to move the bear almost like a puppeteer so that he truly seems like a third person in the car and cheap motels with Polly and her dad. And the bear has a great sense of humor! This engrossing novel has it all, combining suspense, family drama, a coming-of-age story, and wit. I was sorry to say good-bye to Polly, Nate, and the bear. This is a book that truly deserved its award (and I see it also won an Alex Award - for adult novels that will appeal to teens - from the American Library Association).

272 pages, Ecco

The audio version of this book was especially good - listen to this sample, and you will be hooked!

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  1. How fun to have read a book right before it gets a great prize! This one sounds so good.