Full Ride

( 5 )

Overview

Becca has plenty to hide and everything to lose—but with her future on the line, she’s willing to risk it all. This gripping novel from New York Times bestselling author Maragaret Peterson Haddix “will rivet readers” (Publishers Weekly).

Becca’s claim to fame is one she’s been hiding from for the past three years: Her father is a notorious embezzler, and when he was caught, his excuse was, “How else is a guy like me supposed to put his kid ...

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Overview

Becca has plenty to hide and everything to lose—but with her future on the line, she’s willing to risk it all. This gripping novel from New York Times bestselling author Maragaret Peterson Haddix “will rivet readers” (Publishers Weekly).

Becca’s claim to fame is one she’s been hiding from for the past three years: Her father is a notorious embezzler, and when he was caught, his excuse was, “How else is a guy like me supposed to put his kid through college?”

Three years after the trial and imprisonment that destroyed Becca’s life, she and her mother have started over again and are living in a town where no one knows their secret. But as college—and its cost—looms large, Becca begins to wonder how they’ll afford it. And how she can apply for financial aid without divulging her secret? A local scholarship opportunity seems like a dream come true, but as the application process commences, Becca uncovers a chain of secrets that could destroy everything she’s worked so hard to build. But the truth could also lead her toward the future she’s always dreamed of…

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/14/2013
Becca Jones’s father has been convicted of a Bernie Madoff–like financial scheme, and after he goes to jail, Becca and her mother flee from Georgia to small-town Ohio, hoping for an anonymous fresh start. Three years later, Becca is a senior in high school with plenty of friends, straight As, and college dreams. Becca’s mother is terrified that someone will discover their secret, but when Becca learns about a mysterious scholarship—a full ride for one student at her high school—she’s determined to get it. The presence of Becca’s father, although he’s absent from her day-to-day existence, is strongly felt through Becca’s questions about his crimes and lies, as well as the fact that she still loves him. Haddix (Game Changer) takes up a relevant topic for teens—the process of applying for college—and brings it to a new level of anxiety. The disastrous turns that Becca’s senior year takes will rivet readers and perhaps even alleviate some stress about their own (presumably scandal-free) application processes. Ages 12–up. Agent: Tracey Adams, Adams Literary. (Nov.)
VOYA - Lisa Hazlett
When Becca was fourteen, her father was imprisoned for a nationwide extortion scam, made more notorious by his shameless retort, "How else is a guy like me supposed to send his daughter to college?" To escape notoriety, Becca and her mother flee to another state and live guardedly, hiding their identities. Fast-forward to senior year, and Becca's mother delivers an unexpected jolt regarding college: applications will reveal their past, and her father's crime means financial aid ineligibility. Becca's grades are stellar, but her mother's low-paying job turns attending Vanderbilt into another crushing loss. Becca secretly applies for a local scholarship, but accidently submitting an unsent, cathartic letter to her father describing her anger toward him creates havoc and uncomfortable questions. It also forces another revelation; her father turned state's evidence against the mob for early release, thus jeopardizing their lives. While Becca realizes applications could disclose their location, she is determined to attend college. Female readers will note honesty's power; her mother's trust is shown by revealing the truth regarding her father and allows for their stronger relationship, with Becca's admission to her friends likewise positive. Moreover, Becca can begin resolving long-held, contradictory feelings of love and contempt for both parents and launch a new life, no longer defined by her father. Surprising twists and turns abound until the mob's supposed pursuit, which quickly seems questionable. While this plotline is telegraphed with a contrived resolution, it still features intrigue and tension and does not greatly mar this moving story. Reviewer: Lisa Hazlett
VOYA - Twila A. Sweeney
This story is exciting, especially as information about Becca's father constantly changes, as does shocking reveals about her family, which her mother keeps from her. Before considering college, Becca and her mother lived an incredibly dreary existence, but as she is the braver of the two and continues pursing her dreams, they are able to rebuild their relationship and move forward. Once beginning this thought-provoking novel, female readers will find it hard to put down. Reviewer: Twila A. Sweeney, Teen Reviewer
Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-01
High school senior Becca's father is an infamous criminal, now in prison--a secret she's gone to great lengths to hide. After his conviction and the resulting destruction of their previously comfortable lifestyle three years ago, Becca and her mother went into hiding, aided by her father's attorney. Now, she's a senior facing all the usual worries of competitive, college-bound teens. She's terrified to reveal her true identity yet convinced she can't get financial aid without doing so. The devil of this tale is in the details. Her mother has told Becca they're hiding to avoid the clamoring press. When it becomes apparent that's not plausible, a second explanation emerges, involving a large, predatory corporation searching for them; this is provided too little objective evidence to heighten the sense of danger. In her believable first-person, present-tense narration, Becca investigates and discovers a third explanation for their perceived peril. Unfortunately, each new version of the threat undermines the previous one, never increasing the sense of menace and ultimately steering the tale away from the true, fully credible angst of many teens' senior-year experiences. A secondary plotline involving a full-ride scholarship devolves into a rather bizarre--and implausible--farce. With the myriad sources of stress and the remarkable suspense senior year can provide, it's too bad Becca's journey ends up feeling rather contrived and a bit trite. (Fiction. 11-18)
Booklist
"Ingenious and well-realized, and the mounting suspense will hold readers’ attention to the satisfying conclusion. Haddix’s many fans will be pleased."
School Library Journal
11/01/2013
Gr 8 Up—When Becca's father gets arrested for embezzlement, the teen and her mother flee to a small town in Ohio in order to start their lives over in anonymity and with little money. Three years later, when it's time to apply to college, things become far more complicated. Becca's mother finally tells her that their lives have been threated by those who want to get back at her father, and that they are in constant danger. By filling out anything online, applying for scholarships, or doing any research, Becca is putting them at greater risk, and even though she desperately wants to go to college, she has to consider the consequences of so much exposure. Because this story is told from Becca's point of view, readers get inside her head and can easily sympathize with her lonely experience. Even though she makes a few good and loyal friends, she can't be honest with them. A tense, slightly claustrophobic mood is developed throughout the suspenseful story. Plot twists help to move the narrative along, but they also strain credibility at times. Still, readers who are able to overlook a few improbabilities will grab on and enjoy the ride.—Carrie Shaurette, Dwight-Englewood School, Englewood, NJ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442442788
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 11/12/2013
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 125,556
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 8.42 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of many critically and popularly acclaimed YA and middle grade novels, including The Missing series and the Shadow Children series. A graduate of Miami University (of Ohio), she worked for several years as a reporter for The Indianapolis News. She also taught at the Danville (Illinois) Area Community College. She lives with her family in Columbus, Ohio. Visit her at HaddixBooks.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Full Ride


  • My mother and I ran away after the trial.

We’d gone back to the house and it felt completely wrong: too big, too empty, too booby-trapped with memories.

I used to sit there by the front window when I was a little kid, waiting for Daddy to come home from work. . . . He won’t be coming home now.

We always put our Christmas tree in that corner. Why would we bother putting up a Christmas tree ever again? What would we have to celebrate?

I wandered through the living room, the dining room, the kitchen. Mom had sold off all the furniture that was worth anything, so only the mismatched and the broken and the pathetic remained behind: chairs too spindly to actually sit on, lamps that would have been yard-sale rejects, things we’d put down in the basement to fix or give away and then, in happier times, simply forgotten. We’d been eating our meals the past few months at a card table with a bad leg, so I’d gotten into the habit of holding onto my dishes as I ate, for fear that the table would suddenly plunge to the floor and all would be lost. But now even that card table looked like an ancient artifact, a remnant of a more hopeful life.

Because hadn’t the plunge I was most afraid of just happened? Wasn’t everything lost now? Why had I been foolish enough to think I could save anything by holding on?

Like the furniture, I was just some pathetic broken thing left behind. I’d been powerless to stop anything.

In the kitchen, I bumped into the back wall. I felt so ghostlike and hollow that I was almost baffled at not being able to just walk on through it. Maybe I was more like a different kind of monster: one of those zombies that got trapped in a corner and could never turn around, and so just kept walking endlessly in place, going nowhere.

I made a sound deep in my throat that might have been the start of a chuckle if it’d come from somebody else’s throat, at some other time.

Or the start of hysterics, coming from my throat, then.

“Oh,” Mom said from behind me. “The calendar. That. When . . .”

I’d forgotten about Mom being there. Which was weird, because we’d practically been joined at the hip during the trial: hustled together past the waiting cameras into the federal courthouse each day; sitting side by side in the courtroom’s churchlike wooden pews throughout the testimony, even taking bathroom breaks together because it was easier for the paralegal to sneak us in and out all at once.

I turned around—see, I can do that much! I’m not actually a zombie, after all! But any small burst of triumph I felt disappeared at the sight of Mom.

She was still wearing the conservative gray suit she’d had on in court. The lawyer had given strict instructions about what Mom and I were supposed to wear: Everything had to be bland, dull colored, unprovocative. Who actually owns clothes like that? On our budget—on what had become of our budget—this meant shopping in secondhand stores in hopes of finding something left over from the 1950s. Hopefully, previously owned by a nun.

“No teenager should have a whole section of her closet devoted to going-to-court clothes,” Mom had said once, standing in the doorway of my room.

But I did.

At fourteen, I was still small boned and flat chested and scrawny. The best I could hope for in those courtroom clothes was that they might make me look Amish. And so that was one of the thoughts that had gotten me through the hours of testimony.

I am not going to get upset about the awful things people are saying about my father. I will just pretend I am a simple Amish girl with nothing on my mind except milking cows and churning butter. And God. Wouldn’t a simple Amish girl think about God? Wouldn’t she be praying with all her simple heart that her father would be cleared of all the charges against him?

She would have, and I did too.

But the jury found my father guilty.

I was still staring at Mom. I realized I was trying to get my eyes to see her differently: in a floral sundress, maybe, her honey-colored hair sculpted perfectly around her smiling face, a pitcher of lemonade and a tray of sugar cookies in her hands as she headed outside to host a pool party or a garden party or yet another of my famous birthday parties. . . . That was my real mother. That was how she was supposed to look, how she was supposed to act.

Except our pool was drained and covered now. We hadn’t used it all summer. We’d stopped the yard service, and the garden was being taken over by kudzu. And my birthday . . . my birthday had happened during the trial. Mom had tried to celebrate, as much as she could. She’d suggested a special breakfast before court: maybe something from Starbucks, a forbidden luxury now. Or maybe a late dinner after court with a few friends, not the usual huge pack but the really special ones, the ones who had stayed by me.

“No,” I said. And Mom was kind: She let it go. She didn’t make me spell out my reasons.

This birthday could never be anything but awful, and pretending to celebrate would only make things worse. And, anyhow, what makes you think I have any friends who stayed by me?

I didn’t receive a single happy birthday e-mail, card, or call. The closest thing I got to a gift was a lie I allowed myself about why all my friends had ignored my birthday:

That’s just not how teenagers do things. If I still had a cell phone, my friends would be texting me birthday wishes like crazy. If the lawyer hadn’t told me to take down my Facebook page, I’d see a thousand “Happy Birthdays” there. Everybody says happy birthday on Facebook, no matter what. No matter who you’re related to.

Actually, one other person besides Mom did remember: Daddy. He turned around in his defendant’s seat, even though he wasn’t supposed to, and he gave me a big thumbs-up and mouthed the words, Fourteen today! My grown-up girl!

There was more that he expected me to lip read—probably something about how he’d throw me a really huge party after this whole mess was over, after he’d proved he was innocent and he’d won a multimillion-dollar lawsuit for being prosecuted unfairly. But I’d looked away, drilling my gaze into the official United States court seal on the wall. Above the words “Northern District of Georgia,” the arrows in the eagle’s claw looked mercilessly sharp.

“It’s next week,” Mom said, bringing me back to our own kitchen, to the postverdict world, to a real life that simply could not be mine.

“Huh?” I said. I put together everything Mom had said: Oh, the calendar. That. When . . . It’s next week. I couldn’t tell if the problem was that she wasn’t making sense, or that I was incapable of finding sense in anything anymore.

Mom lifted one shaking hand and pointed at a single square on the calendar on the wall: Tuesday, August 4. Way back at the beginning of the year, Mom had drawn a lacy border around that date and written in her frothy, exuberant script: “Becca’s first day of high school! Hurray!”

Tuesday, August 4, was next week.

Even though I’d completely forgotten about it, high school was one week—no, five days—away.

I backed away from the calendar.

“Mom, I can’t,” I said, my voice clotted with shame. “I can’t do it. Everybody will know.”

She looked at me, looked deep. And I think she had to have seen the truth in what I was saying, or at least my rock-solid conviction: I really couldn’t. I couldn’t climb the stairs of Belpre High School. I couldn’t walk those marbled hallways that had seemed so shiny and exciting and promise filled back during eighth-grade visit day, back before my father was arrested. I couldn’t fold my body into those gleaming wooden desks and sit there and learn anything about English or science or math while I was assaulted with stares and whispers and behind-my-back gossip: “Don’t you know who that is? Don’t you know what her father did?” I couldn’t go to cheerleading tryouts or football games or homecoming dances. With all the crimes that the jury had convicted my father of, they’d actually left one out: He also stole high school from me.

And Mom knew this. I could see it in her eyes, as she was seeing it in mine.

“Then . . . don’t,” Mom said, as if she were just now figuring this out. As if it were easy. “You don’t have to go to Belpre. You can go somewhere else. Somewhere nobody knows about your daddy.”

I let out a bitter laugh, twisted and mean.

“Mom, it was on the news,” I said. “Everybody knows everywhere.”

I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach—it was like I could feel the news spreading, right that moment. The news of the verdict would be on TV newscasts and radio talk shows and Internet websites. I could practically hear the words whispering past me, the invisible waves streaming through me, a poison, an epidemic, a plague. It would be on Facebook already, that mix of gloating disguised as sympathy (Did y’all hear Becca’s daddy’s going to prison? Can you imagine what it’d be like to be her?) and the comments that were nothing but pure meanness (They should have the death penalty for people like him. . . . And what about Becca? Don’t you think she and her mom knew all along what he was doing?).

“I don’t mean around here,” Mom said. She was starting to get a wild look in her eye. She ran her hand over her head, knocking against the severe barrette that had clenched her hair back into its prim court-appropriate bun. The barrette hung half-in, half-out. “We could move. We could go far away, where nobody knows anything about us. We could start fresh.”

“Mom, it was on the national news, remember?” I reminded her. “It was on CNN. It was in The New York Times. There’s nowhere we can go to get away from this.” I looked down at my sacklike dress. “Unless you want to go live with the Amish. Or in Antarctica.”

Mom yanked out a kitchen drawer and pulled out the tray of silverware. It was like she was preparing to pack already.

“Mom?” I said doubtfully.

Mom pulled out the next drawer and added a stack of dish towels on top of the silverware. She was getting ready to pack.

“Everybody’s heard about your father and what he did,” she said. “Everybody saw pictures of him. But not pictures of us. Not so much. Not as many. That’s why we always hid our faces, going in and out of court.”

She started to laugh, a little manically.

“Really, who’s going to remember your name? Or mine?” She flailed her arms wildly. “Our last name is Jones! Jones! There are a million Joneses! Even the IRS can’t keep track of them all!”

This had been a major factor in Daddy’s trial, because some other Roger Jones’s tax records had gotten mixed up with his. The lawyer had thought it would be a way for Daddy to get off scot-free. He’d been wrong, but Mom seemed to have forgotten this.

She moved on to yanking open the cabinet where we kept our plates.

“It’s perfect!” she cried. “Why didn’t I think of this sooner? We don’t have to get fake, new, anonymous-sounding names to go into hiding because we already have anonymous-sounding names. We’ll just go where nobody knows us, and we’ll be fine!”

She pulled down a stack of plates and began counting mugs. If I didn’t do something soon, she’d have the whole kitchen in boxes.

“Mom, what about . . . ,” I began. I really wanted to say, “What about our friends? How could we leave them?” But I couldn’t force the words out. Not after nobody had wished me happy birthday. Not after all the casseroles and the drop-by visitors had stopped showing up on our doorstep about the time it became clear that this wasn’t just “one huge awful governmental mistake,” as everyone had wanted to believe.

“What about your job?” I asked instead. “You said you were going to get a job.”

Mom stopped her counting and looked me right in the face.

“Who was ever going to hire a notorious criminal’s wife?” she asked.

I heard an echo in her words, something she would never say but I knew was there: And who would ever give a criminal’s daughter a fair shake in high school? Who would ever pick her as a cheerleader, who would ever give her the lead in the school play, who would even save her a seat in the school cafeteria?

Mom put her arm around my shoulder and hugged me close.

“But everything will be fine, as long as nobody knows who we are,” she said. “It’ll be like . . . like our own private witness protection program.”

“Witness” sounded like such a pure, innocent word. Like some poor unsuspecting bystander who had just accidentally ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Someone who deserved protection, who deserved to be kept safe from crimes and criminals and everything else that was ugly and evil in this world.

I was standing there in my stripped-bare house, having just spent the past three weeks hearing that everything I thought I knew about my father and my family and my safe, happy, cozy childhood was wrong. It was like my life had been picked over by vultures—my memories of the past were ruined and my dreams for the future were ruined and everyone and everything I’d ever cared about was ruined. I was standing there in a baglike dress that might as well have been sackcloth and ashes.

And Mom was saying we could walk away from all that. We could start over again, clean and fresh and new.

And maybe she could. But the purity, the innocence of that word “witness” hovered just out of reach for me. I couldn’t claim it for myself.

How could I, when I’d been the reason for my father’s crimes?

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2014

    Full Ride

    This book is so touching! There were a lot of twists I didn't see coming. All of Haddix's books are great!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2014

    Anonymous

    This book is amazing

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2014

    Rroocckkssttaarr110022

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2013

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 3, 2014

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