Wednesday, July 4, 2018

She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper: Reading Room Review

Reading a book that comes so highly recommended from other reviewers and readers in the mystery/crime community is a bit daunting. Starting from a point of feeling a need to love a book is not my favorite place to start, so I had put off its reading until I finally could no longer ignore the accolades it has received. So, wow! I'm now in my favorite place of loving a book that so many friends have loved and joining in its praise. The overriding successful feature of She Rides Shotgun for me is its originality and turning that originality into a story of non-stop, thrilling action. Do readers really want to read about an eleven-year-old girl who is on the run with her ex-convict dad? Oh, yes, they do. Its unique set-up takes the reader on a journey that is violent and so outside the box of normality that you'd think it might be implausible, but it is mesmerizing and real and completely captivating. It will take you out of your comfort zone, but you will be unable to put the book down until you finish the wild ride.

Nate McClusky makes a big mistake shortly before he is to be released from prison. He kills Crazy Craig Hollington’s brother, and Crazy Craig, who is the leader of the Aryan Steel white supremacist gang, puts out an order from his jail cell to kill Nate, his ex-wife Avis, and their daughter Polly. This green light to kill goes out to all the Steel members in and out of prison, and Avis and her new husband are dead before Nate can warn her. But, eleven-year-old Polly, who shares steel blue eyes with her father, is just leaving school when Nate meets up with her and snatches her away to begin a frantic race against an unyielding enemy. Despite the odds, Nate is determined to save Polly, but the effort will change them both in ways they never imagined.

Along with this story’s originality, Jordan Harper has created characters that will deeply affect the reader. I expect Polly and Nate to stay with me no matter how many books I read in the future. Polly first presents as a shy, bullied child who carries a stuffed bear with her everywhere to shield her and comfort her. Nate is a hardened career criminal who has no time for softness or feelings. But they must come together and work together if they are to survive. The author does a brilliant job of revealing how a person can be both dark and good, and how liking a character is more complicated than their actions. The brutal world that Nate and Polly must navigate is one foreign to most readers, but it is one that exists, and it is an exceptional writer that can bring such a world into view in a compelling story that doesn’t leave one despondent.

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