Review: Joyride by Anna Banks

Joyride by Anna Banks
Publication date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Received ARC from publisher (Thanks!)
Summary: It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico. Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber's mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects. All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other.  (

The good
This was my first Anna Banks book and she surprised me with Joyride. What initially seemed like a book about two unlikely people falling in love while pulling all sorts of pranks is actually a much deeper novel. It delves into topics like immigration, racism, mental illness and familial obligations.

Carly Vega is an extremely responsible teenager, living with her brother and torn between two things: her desire to go to college and her family’s expectation that she contribute financially to get her parents, who were deported, back from Mexico. In comparison, Arden Moss seems a typical rich boy with no baggage whatsoever. And there was a time when he was. Star quarterback, dating around a lot. Then his older sister Amber dies and he blames their father who ignored her struggles with mental illness. Both Carly and Arden are looking for something, even if they didn't know what exactly, and somehow it ends up being each other.

The heart of Carly and Arden’s relationship is that they’re opposites who complement the other. Carly is all work and no play. She has two major responsibilities that she takes very seriously. She studies hard and works long hours at a convenience store. But deep down, she understandably struggles under the weight of this unfair responsibility. She should be able to be a kid right now and no one in her family seems to understand that. I couldn’t help feeling indignant on her behalf especially as we meet her brother and parents. But while Carly is all about the work, Arden is definitely all about playing. Or should I say, pranking. It’s something he and his sister used to do together and one glimpse of Carly’s feisty side convinces him she would be the perfect partner-in-crime. Just as he helps her to have fun, she inadvertently influences him too. To take on responsibility, to look out for his elderly uncle (who goes to Carly’s convenience store regularly and is very fond of her - I loved him!). They go from strangers to hesitant pranking partners to friends and then to something much more. It was a progression that was very fun to watch!

(Some) Reservations
The serious themes running through the book both pushed the story to another level and but at times, I thought hindered it. I mean the topics they touch on are very real and I liked that a lot. I haven’t read many books that discuss things like immigration and what that means for the children. I’ve witnessed this in my own family. I’ve had relatives leave behind children or spouses back in the Philippines to come here in the hopes of creating a better life (and then bringing said family over when the time is right). But I felt like the book did an abrupt about face in terms of tone and the situations both Carly and Arden found themselves were a bit too extreme (at least for me).

Do I recommend?
I enjoyed the writing and the characters so if the synopsis intrigues you, I’d recommend borrowing it from the library and checking it out.

1 comment

  1. I'm really curious about Joyride! It sounds like much more than I expected it to be, and in the best way. I'm always interested in seeing how immigration is handled in a story, particularly in YA, so I'm definitely drawn to that aspect of it too. I may just have to check it out!


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