Such a Rush
Published by MTV Books
Available on Amazon.com
I purchased my own copy.
5 / 5 cupcakes
I admit that I look down on trailer parks.
There you go. I am shallow, and, having lived in Florida, I view trailer parks as kibble for tornadoes and hurricanes. I draw conclusions about people who live in them. I am, you might say, an awful person.
I certainly feel awful about that prejudice after reading Such a Rush.
When Leah Jones is fourteen, she gets a job at an airstrip in Heaven Beach, South Carolina, which is within walking distance of her home in a trailer park. Leah's mother is about as AWOL as you can get. She comes and goes on her own whims, leaving Leah behind to fend for herself. On the rare occasions that she is present in her daughter's life, it's usually to take back a television set so she can hock it somewhere.
To say that Leah lives in poverty is to be generous. Yes, she has a roof over her head. Yes, she has heat and electricity. But she is alone, lives on what little food she can carry on her walks home from the grocery store, and, worse, she is continually victimized by the mean kids at her high school. They accuse her of being a slut, pointing to her tight clothes and flirtatious mannerisms. She realizes that she does wear low cut tops and has a tendency to sweet talk people when she wants something, but those are the lessons her mother taught her.
The only time Leah feels free is at the airstrip, where she pursues her dream of flying. She works out a deal with Mr. Hall, who runs a banner advertising company at airstrip. He cuts her a deal for flying lessons, and in a few years, after she amassed the necessary hours, she flies planes that drag his banners. When she's in the air, she feels it. Such a rush.
But of course this is about a high school girl, so boys are a part of the festivities. Grayson and Alec Hall are Mr. Hall's twin sons, and they live with their mother. Grayson believes Alec needs help, and his idea of assistance is to bribe Leah into dating Alec. But Leah likes Grayson, and he appears to like her, so complications ensue.
I have read all of Jennifer Echols's books, and one of the things I appreciate about her writing is how real it is. She creates high school girls who could be in my classroom. In the case of Leah, we have a girl who presents herself sexually yet gets her rush from flying, not sex. She wants sex, certainly, but on her terms. Despite her mother's frequent absences, she does not look for love and protection in high school boys. She finds it instead in the freedom that working, earning a paycheck, and chasing her dreams gives her.
Grayson, too, is realistic. He takes on tremendous responsibility for an eighteen-year-old boy, but his reasons for doing it ring true, as do his reasons for bribing Leah. We feel his conflicting emotions - he wants Leah for himself, but he wants to protect his brother more.
Even more importantly, we care about Leah and Grayson. We want them to feel safe, secure, happy and content. We want them together, even if Jennifer Echols never promises us a happy ending. Leah's unstable home life does not magically improve; her mother does not find her missing maternal instincts and take care of her daughter.
Then there is the flying. We get as addicted as Leah does to the rush, just as we become increasingly aware of the dangers involved. Her safety - and Grayson's and Alec's, too - matters to us. And not just her safety in the sky, but her safety on the ground. We want to protect her from school bullies, from her awful mother, and from anyone trying to use her.
Such a Rush is such a good book. Teens will love it, and adults will as well.