Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Riding on Air by Maggie Gilbert

Riding on AirI've never really understood rheumatoid arthritis before. This story was a real eye-opener for what sufferers...well, suffer. Their joints swollen and in pain, the inability to do the simplest of tasks--braid your hair, button or unbutton your coat, text on a cell phone, and ride your horse.

Melissa loves riding and loves her horse Jinx, but she can no longer control her horse and thus, she probably shouldn't be on him. He throws her off a few times and she gets seriously hurt...but she stubbornly keeps getting back on.

Did I mention this is about the world of dressage? I not only learned a ton about the affliction, but also this particular field of horse sports. It was fascinating. I had no clue. I know of racing and jumping, but this was new and intriguing.

Anyway, back to the story. It's a YA. There's a new boyfriend. There's flutterings in bellies, sweaty palms, jealous feelings. And her riding and her hands...get in the way of her happiness. I'm not going to say more about that because it comes toward the end. There's also drama about pain pills--this is an important message to put in a YA novel.

I love the heroine and the first person narrative really worked in this case, allowing us to feel what Melissa feels, see what she sees, think what she thinks. I understood and appreciated her determination, though I confess I had some moments I didn't agree with her. At times, she just stands back and has her friends train her horse, saddle him, rub him down, basically--someone else is always doing the grunt work because of the pain in her hands, but she does the fun part and rides him. This struck me as selfish, BUT she has an epic realization and admission at the end of book and it all comes into place then.

I understood her.

Otherwise, my only quibble is sometimes it felt repetitive. She gets nervous and tongue-tied a LOT (kind of normal for teenage girl though, really). We are constantly reminded of the pain in her joints. (Again, though, this was really eye opening. I can't imagine having pain just from something touching my knuckle.)

Four stars. I received this from Netgalley.

Favorite quote:
"We aren't all given the same amount of time to do the things we dream of doing. For some of us, the clock is winding down a lot faster than it is for everyone else."

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