Becca Jones lived a charmed existence: loving parents, a beautiful home, plenty of clothes and lots of friends. All that came to an abrupt end when her father was convicted of fraud and sentenced to ten years in prison. Now she and her mother can barely make ends meet and have no support from family or friends. It makes perfect sense to accept their lawyer’s assistance in moving from Georgia to Ohio and starting fresh. With a name like “Jones” they will surely be able to pass under the radar and begin a new life.
All seems to go well for three years. Becca develops friendships without revealing her family’s past, earns exemplary grades and enters her senior year in high school with high hopes of attending a good college. She does not anticipate the complications that come when she fills out applications, however, and quickly loses patience with her mother’s trepidation. When she applies for a scholarship without informing her mother or their lawyer, she inadvertently lets her true identity slip, potentially exposing her mother and herself to dangers she did not know existed. After shouldering her troubles alone, Becca finally faces the fact that she cannot solve her problems on her own and must learn to trust the people whom she believes love her.
In yet another suspenseful book, Margaret Peterson Haddix presents young readers with a topic that concerns them: the college application process. While the pressures the students in the story feel are realistic, the cutthroat attitude of some of them seems over-the-top. Fortunately, Becca and her closest friends manage to stay above the fray. Becca herself is a solid citizen, but tends to over think nearly everything. Haddix spends much of the book in Becca’s head, which bogs down the plot at moments. As in many young adult books, Becca often feels she cannot trust adults, even her mother whose fragile mental state hangs in the balance.
The reading level of this book targets a middle school audience, but the theme is geared more towards older readers. That said, Haddix usually presents unoffending story lines and virtuous protagonists. For these reasons, Full Ride is a good light read for teens looking for a story about high school.
A former teacher, Jennifer Minicus is currently a full-time wife and mother living in Ridgewood, NJ.