Friday, June 19, 2015

Full Ride by Margaret Peterson Haddix, 2013

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Becca thought her life was over when her father was sent to prison for embezzlement. It didn't help when he used her as his excuse: "How else is a guy like me supposed to send his daughter to college?" She and her mother fled their town and their notoriety, started over, and vowed never to let anyone know about their past.
Now a senior in high school, Becca has spent the last four years hiding in anonymity. But when it's time to apply to colleges and for financial aid, her mother gives her a rude awakening: If she applies, her past may be revealed to the world
But Becca has already applied for a full-ride scholarship. And as she begins to probe deeper into the secrets of her past, she discovers that she and her mother might be in danger of more than simple discovery - by revealing the truth about their past, she might be putting their very lives in jeopardy.

(368 pages)

When Full Ride came out, I was in 10th grade and taking my very first AP class. My comprehension of the college admissions process was extremely vague, and the parts of the book dealing with it flew right over my head. I was gripped by the story line about Becca's father, about the crimes he had committed and how Becca and her mother were paying for them every day of their lives. Becca's academics served as nothing more than the distraction she used to keep her mind off of the terrible rut her life had entered when her father went to jail for online theft.

The second time through, it's the academic parts of the story that grasp my attention. When Becca and her friends allude to "AP lit" and "AP calc," I know exactly what they're talking about (and shudder because I'm taking them next year!). When Becca's friends recommend that she check out, I get out my iPad and a Google it - only to decide that, like Becca, I'm none to keen on handing out my address to some random college tips website. When Becca ruminates about how her father went to Vanderbilt (or, actually, lied to her about how he had gone there), I flip through my college notebook to discover that I have indeed researched Vanderbilt, but it doesn't have two of the three major fields I'm looking for.

Okay, okay, enough examples. My point is that I could totally own what Becca was going through, college-wise, and that Full Ride came alive to me in a whole new way because of it. But the really neat thing was that when I read it for the first time, I didn't have that angle and I still really enjoyed it. Full Ride is multi-focused enough that you could read it from quite a few different backgrounds, and get different things out each time. This makes it a great re-read as you go through life, because as you discover more about different issues Becca is struggling with (and watches others struggle with), you will find more and more angles in the book that interest you.

Of course, having so many different balls in the air at the same time means that a few of them get dropped by the end of the book - no, "dropped" isn't the right word. They get "sidelined." Mrs. Haddix opts for a dramatic and relatively fulfilling ending, but she leaves a lot of storylines up for grabs. I for one would have liked to read more about Becca's relationship with her friends, how it shifts as they come to grips with the new knowledge they gain as the book goes along. Do they question everything they ever thought they knew about her? Do they feel tricked? Or do they just blink for a minute, go "okay," and keep moving? I don't know, I think that could have been explored a little more.

Altogether, though, it's a very well-written and engaging book, with lots of really interesting topics woven together. And as for the true test of my feelings toward Full Ride? Yeah, I stayed up until after midnight re-reading it. In another year or two, I'll probably do that again.


  1. Great review. This book sounds interesting. My daughter just finished her first year of college and my son will be a senior in high school next year, so I'm aware of the AP stresses and the college search anxieties- all from the parent angle. It's horrifying, really, what we put our kids through all in the name of wanting what's best for them. Anyway, best of luck to you!

    1. Thanks, Susan! Yes, the college process is very crazy. I'm delving into it this summer, and am already getting frazzled. Good luck for your son, who's in the same boat I am!

  2. Sometimes it really can be good to reread a book because you can relate to it a whole lot more the second time round! I think it really did help you emotionally relate to this story more because you could identify with all Becca was surrounded by in her life.

    Check out my review and giveaway:

    1. Yes, being able to identify with Becca definitely enhanced my enjoyment of the book. Thanks for stopping by, Olivia-Savannah! :)


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