All stability in sixteen-year-old Ridge McCoy’s life crashed and burned in the plane crash that killed his dad. This summer-long basketball camp is his chance to improve his skills and escape his problems back home. But his summer plans take a turn in an unexpected direction when he meets Micah Youngblood, the guy who runs the carousel at the local mall and has a reputation for devouring straight boys’ heterosexuality for breakfast, alongside his chocolate chip pancakes.
Ridge needs a way to avoid the guys at camp, whose only quest for the summer is to drown in beer and hook up with girls. So when Micah offers to explain how the ten unique horses on the carousel are significant to his tribe, Ridge takes him up on it. Still, Ridge can’t decide if this is a bad thing or not. All he knows is that he hasn’t felt this alive since his dad fell from the sky, and as the horse adventures come to an end, Ridge finds himself falling as well – for Micah.
3 stars — I will admit I’m a bit torn on this book. I actually liked quite a bit of it, but I still felt like there was just something lacking…like it could have been so much better, you know?? And I keep going back and forth on some of the other things that bugged me. Like they seriously bugged me, but there’s a part of me that can see how characters (especially 17 year old characters) would behave in such a way.
I’ll start off by saying that I chose to move this book up in my queue to fulfill a diversity challenge theme for this month, focusing on Native American History Month. And this is one of the first parts that both bugged me, but I could maybe see it. Ridge (our main hero, the only POV we read) is kind of a dick and maybe a bit of a bigot about Native Americans. Some of the comments he makes/thoughts he has early in the book made me uncomfortable. But then I kind of thought he’s not praised or shown in a good light for that…so it kind of just shows the kind of prejudices that are pervasive in our society, especially about Native Americans…though while he’s not shown in a good light, he’s not smacked down for it either because it’s in his head. But how many people out there think the same things? And we do get to see those things fall away, though it’s never overt. And overall, I thought that Micah, and his family, and the bit we saw of his (made up) tribe weren’t negative. Not being Native, I honestly can’t tell you if they’re positive, but they didn’t feel negative to me. And most of the Native characters were kind of awesome; I really liked Micah, his sister, his nieces, his stories of his Nonna, his Poppa, even his cousins. So yeah, torn on the representation of this particular diversity, since we never see inside Micah’s head.
And on a similar note with Ridge, this is a bit of a “gay for you” story, and he’s a bit of a bigot about homosexuals too…he has some thoughts that made me uncomfortable here as well (like his comparison to prison inmates being “gay for the stay” — ick). Part of me gets this, it’s very realistic I think for many young adult males to be terrified of being gay, even if that makes me RIDICULOUSLY SAD. So I’m torn here…he made me want to smack him, but was he a realistic depiction? I think I would have been happier here if SOMEONE would have freaking brought up bisexuality ANYWHERE in the freaking book. Um, hello. Like seriously. That’s why this lands more in the irks me category, it doesn’t get as much of a pass as the race stuff.
And since I’m getting things that bug me out of the way, there’s the cheating crap (might be minorly spoilery). I hate cheating stuff. I sort of get how confused Ridge was, both about his new feelings for Micah, and how he was just wanting to get away from all the things at home that had become status quo. But grow some balls. It shouldn’t take the whole freaking summer to break up…and she didn’t need to be a mean girl in the end, like I’m supposed to accept his behavior cheating with Micah because of that? Nope.
Well shit, I have more complaints…so I just had to downgrade this from a 3.5 star to a 3 star. Bummer. Really, so many of them just revolve around Ridge’s characterization. So much of him just wasn’t a very sympathetic character…he fell a bit flat a lot of times. He made decisions that made me not like him, I didn’t really understand what he was really like. And OK, one last one: I wanted resolution with his family. I felt like that was so weird that we didn’t ever see them, and it was all very in the background. So much of this book had a coming of age feel, but for it to truly be, I feel like we’d need to see him with his family.
OK, so things I liked!! And crap, even the things I liked are with caveats. This was a bit of a slow burn romance, and I appreciated that it wasn’t fast (especially with all they were dealing with). Sometimes it would jump around a bit fast, like Ridge would be horrified about a kiss, and then still sleeping over. I think I think too much. But I did really think they were cute together. In general I really liked Micah…he was kind of an oddball, and I really did feel for him and what all he was dealing with. He felt like a pretty authentic 17 year old gay guy in a smaller town. I wasn’t always happy with the way he pushed Ridge, but that could be just me.
I did GENUINELY love that we got to see Ridge showing emotions, and feeling things, and crying. So many times guys aren’t allowed to cry, and that just sucks. I really loved Zoey and her twins…I thought they added something to the story, and Abby and Jade amused me (I could so picture their very different approaches to Ridge, right to the end). I thought the little bit we saw of Tuck was cool, I really liked the painting thing… While I was initially confused about the carousel horses thing, I was so happy with the fact that that was explained in the end…and I appreciated the little things those adventures taught us about our heroes. And I LOVED Terrance. We needed more Terrance. He was pretty much the one character who was 100% awesome in this book, and I think he was underutilized.
So yeah. Reading all that, I really did have a lot to complain about eh? Well crap. I did enjoy myself. Like I say, I just had reservations. I’m probably not properly expounding on the good parts of this story. I’m just conflicted, and it’s always so much easier to talk about the things that didn’t work than the things that did, you know? So there you go. My beautiful review. You’re welcome.