Reviewer: Robyn Roberts
Title: Riding the Universe
Author: Gaby Triana
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: May 2009
Genre/Sub-genre: YA Fiction
Publisher’s Age/Grade Recommendation: Ages 12 and up
OUAR’s Age/Grade Recommendation: Ages 12 and up
Year/Setting: Present Day, Florida
Overall Rating: 4.5
Sexual Content Rating: Subtle
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: Mild
Violent Content Rating: Minimal
Gaby's Website: www.gabytriana.com
Chloe Rodriguez is a teenager with passion. She is a Harley Davidson riding girl who loves her adopted family and her best friend, Rock. She is getting through the death of her beloved Uncle Seth and starting to fly high again when a new boyfriend comes into the picture and big changes begin.
Chloe becomes more and more interested in finding her biological parents. She has no idea how to tell her adoptive parents this because she’s afraid she will hurt them. She knows nothing could ever happen to make her love them any less, but there’s a desire to look at someone who is related to you by blood.
The new boyfriend, Gordon, seems to be running hot and cold with Chloe. She’s not sure what to do about him and his overly concerned attitude towards school and grades. He refuses to have any fun and while she loves being with him, sometimes Gordon is a real drag. Gordon and her friend Rock don’t get along so it drives a wedge in their relationship, too. And the worst part of all is that if Chloe doesn’t bring up her grade with Gordon her boyfriend/tutor’s help, she will lose her Harley.
I was captivated by this story from almost the very beginning. It’s hard to describe the book because it doesn’t fit into the typical young adult mold. I found this to be a story that covers several genres. It delves into teen angst, looks at love, deals with intense grief and shows us that often the things we desire most are right before our eyes. Chloe is searching for acceptance and thinks that by finding her ‘real’ family, she will know what that is like. Yet the harder she tries the more obvious to me that her ‘real’ family is the adoptive one she lives with. I think we as the readers can see some of her issues and the solutions more clearly than she does. I loved the people she hangs out with and thought the tension between Rock and Gordon was right on target. Having had friends who were boys in high school, I could clearly see the jealousy and one-upmanship between these boys.
All in all this was a fascinating book. It really took a deep look into the lives and thoughts of teenagers. Yet, it goes beyond typical teen angst and really delves into the feelings of loss and abandonment that happens when someone you love is gone. A story that both young adults and adults can relate to and enjoy.
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