Title: The Long Ride
Author: Marina Tamar Budhos
Published By: Wendy Lamb Books (Coming Sept 2019)
In the tumult of 1970s New York City, seventh graders are bussed from their neighborhood in Queens to integrate a new school in South Jamaica.
Jamila Clarke. Josie Rivera. Francesca George. Three mixed-race girls, close friends whose immigrant parents worked hard to settle their families in a neighborhood with the best schools. The three girls are outsiders there, but they have each other.
Now, at the start seventh grade, they are told they will be part of an experiment, taking a long bus ride to a brand-new school built to “mix up the black and white kids.” Their parents don’t want them to be experiments. Francesca’s send her to a private school, leaving Jamila and Josie to take the bus ride without her.
While Francesca is testing her limits, Josie and Jamila find themselves outsiders again at the new school. As the year goes on, the Spanish girls welcome Josie, while Jamila develops a tender friendship with a boy–but it’s a relationship that can exist only at school. (Taken from Goodreads)
**I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**
While it felt genuinely well-intentioned, this book fell very flat for me.
The main character’s voice was very authentic. I liked the concept of dealing with segregation and mixed-race kids, and I thought addressing school system issues and middle graders was a great idea.
I was confused by most the book. The plot really went nowhere; the book ends exactly where it starts, with the characters not having grown or changed at all. Scenes jump without scene breaks, characters appear and disappear without notice, and characters draw conclusions not supported by the text, making it a very difficult story to follow. Random interactions occur consistently that do nothing to move the storyline, and the story is full of random and pointless events. No conflict is overcome, it just fades away without resolution or growth.
The story was just incredibly weak, as much as I feel bad saying that, strongly lacking morals or themes. There was nothing inherently terrible per se about it, but it was just a really weak novel. Things were explained poorly or not at all; I’m still confused on the setting, and if not for a few—and I mean a few, like maybe three—lines about the girls being mixed race and segregration, I wouldn’t have even be able to tell this time period. The whole concept of switching schools was never fully explained; why they were an experiment, never really explained; just almost nothing was explained. Like the reader is just expected to understand, when in reality, we’re utterly lost. There are instances of misbehavior and references to sexual behavior, but no morality—again, the story strongly lacked in the moral and theme department.
Rating: 2.0 / 5.0