Life's hard.

It's even harder when you're stupid.

John Wayne

Friday, February 21, 2014

Shredded by Karen Avivi ★★★★☆

ShreddedAction, realism and heart, a great combo.
Fiction – YA – Contemporary
314 pages
Publication Date:  2013

I received this book free from the author in exchange for a fair review.

Josie Peters is ready to take her BMX riding to the next level when she finds a chance to join a girls’ team and travel to competitions.  With some new friends and support from the old ones Josie spends the summer trying to make her dream of qualifying for the Ultimate BMX freestyle event and a possible sponsorship deal come true.  To the most of the BMX world sponsorship is a sign of success, but just when Josie might have everything she thinks she wants she has to decide for herself what success looks like.

So, first of all I know this is a story about BMX bike riding, but you don’t have to know about that world to read it.  The themes transcend the setting, (Yep, I just got all philosophical and used a big concept.  My parents like to occasionally see my college education shine through.) and things like the tricks are reasonably explained.  So don’t let that put you off.  Okay now that the BMX thing is covered we can get onto the actual review.

At the beginning I was a little nervous for the story, but quickly got over it as I fell into Josie’s world.  I mean, I read it in one day so that is always a good sign when a book can compete with the rest of my life.  The writing is straight forward with no frills and focuses mostly on Josie’s emotional journey from a first person perspective.  The story itself is very realistic from the high school experiences, online issues and complicated relationships Josie has with others and herself.  It is also exciting and action pact taking on some very unexpected turns.  The story touches on romance and sex, but neither of those are the real important focus and I loved that; a real positive message to teenage girls about putting things in perspective.

 All of the characters are carefully and lovingly crafted to have texture, depth, individuality and a nice realism – no real comic relief characters in this one.  Josie, is a real teenage girl, with normal and natural reactions.  She is emotional, but self-contained, driven to achieve her goals, and trying to grow up, amongst others expectations and even her own.  Josie fights not only against external constraints, but also against the mental blocks she puts up herself.  She has to figure out how to be strong enough to do “her own thing” and decide what is more important, her own false glory or being an encourager to others.  I like how Josie’s new teammates show how different styles of girls can still participate in and be good at sports, whether it is girlie, boy crazy Alexis or no nonsense Lauryn.  And I really like how the story lets the girls remain girls even though they are in a “boys sport”.  I also respect Ms. Avivi’s choice not to vilify Josie’s parents and keep them on the same team.  Ms. Avivi chooses to make them into real parents who are genuinely concerned and wanting the best for Josie, even it scares them or stresses Josie out.  As a parent myself I really could understand their motivation and how hard it was for them to make wise choices.  

Finishing the book all I could think about how much I enjoyed it and my wish to read more about Josie soon.  Definitely a winner!

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