Chasing Tail Lights

Chasing Tail Lights

4.9 10
by Patrick Jones

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Break free.

Before he died, Christy's daddy used to say that when you feel lost, follow the tail lights of the truck in front of you, and they'll get you somewhere safe. Christy keeps chasing those tail lights, but somehow, she's always still lost in Flint, Michigan. Like most teens in Flint, she's dying to leave this dying city. But she's got a secret


Break free.

Before he died, Christy's daddy used to say that when you feel lost, follow the tail lights of the truck in front of you, and they'll get you somewhere safe. Christy keeps chasing those tail lights, but somehow, she's always still lost in Flint, Michigan. Like most teens in Flint, she's dying to leave this dying city. But she's got a secret that she's never told anyone, and it's keeping her chained like a dog to her dead-end life. And she'll never be able to make a fresh start until she's able to reveal that horrible truth and bring herself back into the light.

Patrick Jones revisits his hometown of Flint, Michigan, and the darkness that has overtaken this impoverished city in a novel that reveals the chilling reality of growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in America today.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Jones's (Nailed)proficiency at message-driven novels with hot teen issues is apparent in this latest offering, in which rape, drugs, sexual harassment and poverty take center stage. Living in economically depressed Flint, Mich., is hard enough for 17-year-old Christy, even without her horrible secret: as readers eventually learn, her older brother, Ryan, has been raping her since she was in sixth grade. "Everybody's got their secrets," she declares. "I carry mine like a jagged stone inside my shoe." Her friends make plans to go away to college, but Christy sees no similar escape route for herself, because her family cannot afford it. A suicide attempt lands Christy in therapy, where she acquires the support she needs to confront Ryan. Incidents from Christy's disturbing past (her father's premature death, a brother's life sentence, etc.) interrupt the main narrative, creating a burdensome structure for a story that already suffers from too many issues. Readers who enjoy problem novels, however, are likely to appreciate Jones's sympathetic depictions of teen culture and to overlook a number of predictable situations in order to cheer on the characters. They will especially identify with Christy as she exacts an unexpected revenge in the cathartic finale. Ages 14-up. (Aug.)

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VOYA - Kim Carter
High school senior Christy's life has not been easy, especially since her father's death seven years ago. A truck driver, Christy's father told her how "he'd follow the tail lights of the truck in front of him, until they took him somewhere safe." Since his death, Christy's safe place has been the bridge that overlooks I-69, the highway out of Flint and the divide between Miller Road Mansions, where her best friend Anne lives, and Christy's impoverished neighborhood. Christy's encouragement comes from her English teacher, Ms. Chapman, while at home her older half-brother Ryan is in charge. The nights when Christy's niece Bree stays with their Aunt Dee are the worst: These are the nights when Ryan comes to Christy's room. As senior year progresses, Ms. Chapman helps Christy get a job at the library, succeeds in cajoling Christy to join the track team, and ultimately supports Christy in reclaiming her life: "She didn't teach me how to run; she showed me how to walk tall.o Not shying from the complexities of life with "plenty to run from, but . . . nothing and nowhere to run to," this novel incorporates sexual abuse, suicide, neglect, drug use, alcoholism, depression, and homosexuality in this believable portrait of life on the "other side" of the highway. Well paced, with fluent dialogue, Christy's first-person narrative occasionally reads more like a social worker's counseling than the struggles of a young woman who has been abused for more than a third of her life. Nevertheless readers looking for inspiration might find some in this story of developing resilience.
VOYA - Amber MacNeil
I didn't like this book so much. It didn't keep my interest and was difficult to follow as it skipped around a lot to different parts of Christy's life. I think teenagers who like to read about lost teenagers would like this book if they can follow what's going on as it skips backward and forward.
Kirkus Reviews
Although she's smart and fast on her feet, Christy is sure her life in Flint, Mich. is going nowhere. The best she can do is to take her beloved dead father's advice: Follow the taillights of the car in front of you, and it will lead you to where you need to go. She's convinced herself that the dark events of her past mean she will amount to nothing in the future, but thanks to the sage words of cute coworker and a teacher's open ear she learns to make some smart choices and take control of her own destiny in times of trauma. This has all the conventions of a successful teen problem novel, including poverty, sexual abuse, neglectful and dead parents, parents who live for power trips, drug dealing, incarceration and unrequited crushes. Unfortunately, the maudlin writing often gets in the way of the plot and character development. In spite of these difficulties, the pacing is excellent, building to a tidy ending. Emo teens and fans of Dave Pelzer's books will love the oceans of angst and the many dire situations Christy and her friends and family face and eventually survive. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Walker & Company
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.83(w) x 8.43(h) x 1.13(d)
820L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

PATRICK JONES received lifetime achievement awards from both the American Library Association and the Catholic Library Association for his work motivating young people to read. He is also the author of many teen novels, including The Tear Collector, Stolen Car, and Things Change. Patrick was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, and currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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Chasing Tail Lights 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Patrick Jones did an AMAZING job with Chasing Tail Lights. I've read Nailed, Things Change, and just finished Chasing Tail Lights. Amazing job with all...he brought so much reality into it. I put all my projects aside just to read the book... (I dislike reading) but this book, I just HAD to. It was great! I was so proud of Christy at the end... The last page for hardcover, page 294...just left me WOWed. Have to give props to Robert and Bree. It was touching, and this book just left me wowed. It was a great book, and a must-read. Patrick Jones is an amazing author. *It helps you...pretty much through a whole lot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Christy is a senior in high school and can't wait to get out of Flint, Michigan. She probably never will leave, but hearing her father always talk about ¿chasing tail lights¿ until they take you where you want to be, gives her the hope she needs to get through the mess that is her life.

In fifth grade, Christy's father died and life has never been the same. Her mother works hard and drinks hard, but doesn't have a kind word for Christy. Christy's half-brother, Ryan, gets their mother's love even though he deserves it the least. Bree, Christy's little niece, has become her responsibility. She cooks, cleans, and does laundry while she keeps an eye on Bree and swears to keep her safe.

School could offer Christy a way to escape Flint, but with so-so grades and sleepless nights that cause her to be late to class or unable to keep her eyes open, things look less than promising for Christy's future. When Christy demonstrates her ability to run, English teacher Ms. Chapman urges her to join the track team. She also supplies Christy with an unending supply of books to read, each one with a message designed to help the young girl cope with her troubling world. But even encouragement from Ms. Chapman and her best friend, Anne, can't get Christy to accept and admit what is happening on the dark side of her life.

CHASING TAIL LIGHTS exposes the sickening underbelly of sexual abuse. Christy, an innocent victim of the ugly crime, fights with determination to better her life and protect those around her. Readers will feel her pain and cheer her accomplishments as she learns to accept her situation and make a plea for help. Patrick Jones, author of THINGS CHANGE and NAILED, has outdone himself with this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book was an inspiring novel. I am currently writing a book myself and 'Chasing Tail Lights' gave me some ideas for my book. What happened to Christy in the book, it was very tragic. I know how she feels because something very simalar happened to me in the past. Just like Christy, I was afraid to tell anybody because of the questions and the looks I would get once the truth came out. If anybody would like to contact me about this book or wish to contact me about my book im writing, write me a letter address it to 'Tiana McAllister 109 New Dorwart Street Lancaster, Pa 17603'
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was filled with so much hurt. I loved every minute of it. I could sort of relate to the character. There's really not much else I want to say about it, just that I loved it. Anyone in high school should deffinitely read it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I got my copy of Chasing Tail Lights, I was so excited to read it. From the moment I opened the book I couldn't put it down. This book to me became a tear jerker, as were all of the other Patrick Jones books, because I could relate to what was going on. This book is definately a book that teenagers and adults will enjoy. I strongly recommend this and any of P.J.'s books to parents because it helps take a look into a teenagers mind. I definately give this book a two thumbs up!
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was a terrific book. The characters were great. It really captures you right from the beginning.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Christy is an amazing character who is withdrawn from others and just wants to disappear. With this feeling of despair and loneliness, you want someone to reach out to her. I love how Patrick Jones captures your full attention at the very beginning. Telling the story of a young girl and growing up is a challenge. You will never be able to put the book down or forget the struggles and triumph at the end. You must read this outstanding book.