Thursday, July 26, 2012

Such a Romantic Rush

Such a Rush
High School is a battlefield and the kids are at war. What side would you be on? In Jennifer Echols' Such a Rush, we get the story of Leah Jones, a girl whose trailer park home and absentee mother have branded her, but she doesn't want to live up to that brand. In fact, she will take unbelievable risks to break out of that mold.

Leah's mother moves every time she gets a new boyfriend. Always a trailer park, which is almost always by an airport. When they moved to Heaven Beach, Leah decided to take control of her life and got a job as a receptionist at a small private airport. But receptionist wasn't enough for Leah; she wanted to fly. Forging her mother's signature, she gave Mr. Hall the money for a lesson (all the money she had) and demanded a lesson. Seeing the fire and love for flying in Leah, Mr. Hall took her under his wing and taught her to fly. Mr. Hall's sons, however, didn't think their father's generosity was as charitable as it sounded. They assumed Leah was paying for the lessons in a less than appropriate way. Why else would their old man be helping this girl?

When Mr. Hall dies suddenly, Leah's hope of becoming a pilot is gone along with him. No one else would take an almost 18 year old girl seriously as a pilot. She assumes Mr. Hall's business is gone, but when the twin sons, Alec and Grayson, return to Heaven Beach, they announce they are keeping the banner business going. Grayson wants Leah to continue on as a pilot, but she doesn't trust him or the longevity of his business. When Grayson blackmails her to not only fly for him, but to also date his brother Alec, she can't figure out what his motives are. But flying is more important to Leah than anything else in her life. So how far would she go to make sure she could fly?

Jennifer Echols has written books under the MTV imprint, and they are edgy, mature, and fun. They fall in the older realm of Young Adult books, and are best left for older teens in high school. There are some intimate scenes and graphic language, but none of it is filthy. But what Echols does best is appeal to those older teens who can smell BS a mile away. We all know teens are BS detectors of the most critical kind, so they require a book that doesn't patronize them or treat them as a children. They might not be "adults" yet, but they sure don't want to be treated like children. Echols' books are upfront, no nonsense, callin' it like it is, whether you want it or not. And this book is no different.

Leah's life with her flighty, always unemployed, leech of a mother in the trailer parks is a sad one. She is labeled the slut because of the way she dresses and her mother invited Leah's boyfriend to move in pretty much sealed the deal. But you know Leah is a proud, bright young woman. She takes the insults in stride and holds her head high. But internally, she struggles to see past how others define her. And she certainly doesn't take any crap from Grayson. I am going to say that I had a tough time with another female YA character falling for the absolute jerk, but I have come to expect it now. Of course, they always have a reason for acting like a toad, and the reason can be healed or fixed, but it doesn't change the fact that they treat these girls like crap and then the girls want them desperately. I wish we could have a romantic story that doesn't start with a verbally abusive male lead... ahhh... if only....

But Grayson's cantankerousness aside, this was an interesting story. I loved Leah and everything she stood for, even in the face of a world where the only person who ever cared about her was basically a stranger and who passed away. The grief Leah suffered at his loss was touching and quiet, as she felt she didn't really have a right to grieve the same way his sons did, even though she spent more time with him than they did. This is still a mature book better left to older teens. It is fairly romantic and emotional and would probably appeal to older girls most. But the best thing about Echols? She is a BS free zone!

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