Author: Jennifer H. Lyne (Twitter)
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publish Date: June 4, 2013
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Tough-as-nails fourteen-year-old Sid may not have expensive boots like the privileged teen riders in Virginia, but she knows her way around horses. Working with her Uncle Wayne since childhood, she’s learned to evaluate horses, break and train them, care for them...and ride like a professional.Amid turmoil at home, she dreams of becoming a catch rider — a show rider who can ride anything with hooves. In this salty, suspenseful teen novel, an unexpected opportunity to ride a top-notch horse in an equitation show takes the small-town girl all the way to Madison Square Garden.
Sidney doesn't live a rich life. She's not pampered, or spoiled. She's never had more than exactly what she needs, but she does have one thing going for her. Sid knows horses. She understands how they think, how they act and how they work, and most of all, Sid knows how to ride. Having always had to deal with second-best of nearly everything, Sid finally wants something all to herself, and she'll do just about anything to accomplish her dream and become a riveting, sensational and inspiring show rider.
To be entirely honest, when the author contacted me to review her novel, that was the very first time I'd ever heard of Catch Rider, and I was a bit wary because of the younger protagonist. However, Jennifer Lyne has carefully crafted an empowering and emotional story of a girl that, while younger in age, often presents a maturity beyond her years, as well as a strength of spirit and determination that readers of any age can relate to. Blending tense drama, tangible characterization, an emotional plot and a journey to find and succeed at accomplishing one's dreams, Catch Rider is sure to whisk you away into Sid's world.
Sid was somewhat of a tricky protagonist for me - not because of her age, but rather because of her demeanor. The girl has had a rough life, and there is absolutely no denying that. You can sense her inner turmoil and the walls she has put up to shield herself from any more hurt. Her father is gone, her mother cares too much about her deadbeat of a boyfriend and she has no money on a good day. Sid's always been on her own and, therefore, you can understand why she's a bit rough around the edges. The reason, however, that I struggled with her at times is because despite the fact that she's got next to nothing, she doesn't hesitate to demean others, and her bitterness leaves an acrid taste in my mouth. That said, I think there were some definitive strengths to Catch Rider that really worked for a fairly slim novel. For one, we're thrust directly into Sid's life from the start. With little to no introduction whatsoever, the reader is pushed into a sort of sink-or-swim environment where we very quickly learn and understand the world in which Sid lives. Furthermore, there is no lack of action and adventure in the book. From the start, we have the unique ability to become invested in Sid's journey to accomplish her dreams at all costs. We also have the unique opportunity to get an insider's perspective into the world of showing horses. The author has clearly done her homework, as the world is incredibly vivid and detailed, and I could picture the scenes and events as though I were there, myself. The plot, too, is well done. It never lags or slows, but blends the subtle character introductions, touches of sweet romance and engaging action with a great, steady pace. I will say that I wished the ending could have been fleshed out a bit further, as it was a bit abrupt for my liking, but it worked, and it was just wrapped up enough to feel satisfied.
Overall, Catch Rider is a great crossover book for most ages. The author has a way with words, and I definitely look forward to reading more from her. I give it a high 3.5 out of 5, and I recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction. This can also work for an upper MG audience.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.