A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices in midnight pranking and are soon in over their heads-with the law and with each other-in this sparkling standalone from New York Times bestselling author Anna Banks.
It's been several years since Carly Vega's parents were deported. Carly lives with her older brother, studies hard, and works the graveyard shift at a convenience store to earn enough to bring her parents back from Mexico.
Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He used to date popular blondes and have fun pranking with his older sister Amber. But now all that has changed, and Arden needs a new accomplice-especially one that his father, the town sheriff, will disapprove of.
All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to not do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they've allowed their lives to be driven by the wishes of others. Just like real life, Carly and Arden's journey toward their true hearts-and one another-is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.
About the Author
Anna Banks is a young-adult author whose first novel, Of Poseidon, was a Macmillan Fierce Reads title. She lives in Crestview, on the Florida panhandle, with her husband and their daughter.
Kyla Garcia is an AudioFile Earphones Award-winning narrator. Born and raised in Hoboken, New Jersey, she discovered acting at the age of eight when she played Lady Macbeth in a children's adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy. She made her off-Broadway debut at fifteen when she played Dorothy in Oz: A Twisted Musical. Eleven years after she discovered her passion for acting, she would go on to play Lady Macbeth once again in London at the Globe Theatre, where she studied Shakespeare during her third year at Mason Gross School of the Arts. She received her BFA in acting from Rutgers University.
Andrew Eiden is an actor and winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award for narration. He has been acting since the age of four, working at regional theaters, in national commercials, and on numerous television shows.
Read an Excerpt
By Anna Banks
Feiwel and FriendsCopyright © 2015 Anna Banks
All rights reserved.
Mr. Shackleford shuffles in the front door of the Breeze Mart, jingling the bells tied to a velvet string on the handle.
Please don't die on my shift.
Please don't die on my shift.
Please don't die on my shift.
He's one of my regulars — maybe even the regular — and one of the only customers to come in past 1:00 a.m., which is why I wait to sweep and mop until after he leaves. I glance at the clock; 1:37 a.m.
Right on time.
The other reason I wait to mop is because Mr. Shackleford is the human version of stale bread. He's moldy — seventy years old with a white flaky exterior, crusty around the edges, especially in the eyes where the cataracts congregate. On the inside, slow chemical reactions decompose what's left of something that used to be soft and pliable and probably pleasant (I say probably because where old people usually have frown lines, Mr. Shackleford has smile lines). The only thing that keeps him alive is the alcohol, due to what I imagine is a pickling effect. And due to the alcohol, he sometimes mistakes aisle four for the men's bathroom.
As he passes the front register where I've got my calculus splayed, he gives me a slight nod, which tells me he's fairly lucid — and the odds of him peeing near the beef jerky are slim tonight. He doesn't even fidget with the zipper of his camouflage pants, which is usually the first sign that I should direct him to the bathroom immediately.
I hear him scuffle down the last aisle and back again; this time the sound of a sloshing fifth of vodka accompanies him. I try to clear my books before he gets to the counter but I'm too late; he sets the bottle on my scrap sheet of graph paper, magnifying the graph lines I drew ten seconds before.
"Evenin', Carly," he says. I know he's been drinking, I can smell it, but his words aren't slurry yet. He appraises the books and papers in front of me. "Math. That's good. Math'll take you a long way in life."
He's gearing up for the Question of the Night, I can tell. No matter what stage of inebriation he's in, he goes all philosophical on me before he pays for the vodka. I know he thinks I fail at the answers, but that's okay. I live in the real world, not in an alcohol-induced euphoria. Last night, the question was "Is it better to be sick and wealthy, or healthy and poor?" Of course, I had to clarify a few things, like how sick and how wealthy and how poor. Very sick, very wealthy, very poor, he'd said.
So I announced that it would be best to be very sick and very wealthy. That way you could afford the best health care imaginable, and if you died, you could leave your loved ones something besides broken hearts and a funeral bill. In this country, to rise above healthy and poor is just an ideal. An ideal that most poor people don't have time to contemplate because they're too busy trying to put food on the table or keeping the lights turned on.
Like me and my brother, Julio.
Yes, it sounds like a pessimistic outlook on life blah, blah, blah. But pessimism and reality are usually mistaken for each other. And the realists are usually the only ones who recognize that.
Mr. Shackleford thumbs through his dirty camouflage wallet — which is always full of hundred dollar bills — and pulls out a twenty, probably the only one he keeps in that fat thing. I give him change, the same change every night, and he pockets the bills but leaves the seven cents in the got-a-penny tray in front of the register. I put his new bottle in a brown paper bag and gear up for the Question.
He tucks his purchase under his arm. "Is it possible to be truly happy without ever having been truly poor?"
I roll my eyes. "It's not only possible, Mr. Shackleford. It's more likely." Okay, so I like these debates we have. Mr. Shackleford is easy to talk to. He's not judgmental; I don't think he's racist either. Most people don't even say anything when they check out at my register. I know I look Mexican through and through — not even mixed Mexican — just straight-up Mexican, fresh from the border. But that's where they're wrong. I'm not straight from the border. I was born right here in Houghlin County, Florida.
I am an American. And so is Julio.
Mr. Shackleford has never treated me like anything but. He acts like I'm his peer, which is both a little weird and a little cool, that I could be a rich old guy's sixteen-year-old peer.
Mr. Shackelford purses his lips. "Money can't buy happiness." This is the root of all our discussions, and his usual comeback.
I shrug. "Being poor never delighted anyone."
He chuckles. "Simplicity has its merits."
"Being poor isn't the same thing as being simple." And surely he knows how hypocritical it sounds, coming from him. After all, he's about to hoist himself into his brand-new colossal pickup truck and drive away to his family's plantation house. He'll probably watch some TV before drifting off into his nightly vodka coma. Sounds like the definition of simplicity to me.
But he sure as heck isn't poor.
Besides that, things can get real complex when you're just poor enough to have to choose which utility bill to pay and which one to let go. When you can't send enough money along to your family without missing a few meals yourself. When school makes you buy a calculator that costs one hundred something dollars just to take a calculus class — and if you don't take the calculus class you don't qualify for the scholarship you've been working for since Day One.
Being poor isn't simple.
"How is it complicated?" he presses. He counts to three with his fingers. "Work. Eat. Sleep. The poor have time for little else. There is a kind of peacefulness in that simplicity. A peacefulness that the wealthy will never know. Why? Because of the drama, Miss Vega. Higher taxes. More ex-wives. A cornucopia of lawsuits. Lengthy, tortuous family vacations with stepfamilies of stepfamilies. Slavery to hideous fashion trends —"
The list continues to escalate in ridiculousness. Not to mention, I doubt Mr. Shackleford has ever found himself the victim of a fashion trend. In fact, it doesn't look like he's even acknowledged fashion since somewhere in the vicinity of 1972 — and the extent of that acknowledgment appears to cover what was hot among rednecks back in the era of starched flannel.
"Surely this exhaustive list of rich-people issues has a point," I cut him off, unimpressed.
He grins. "I haven't heard your counterargument, Miss Vega." He pulls the package from his armpit and slides the paper bag off the bottle. Fixing his eyes on the cap, he slowly unscrews it. "I require of you a list to match my own. Prove that a poor person's life is so terrible." He takes a swig and waits for my answer.
And suddenly I don't want to talk about this anymore.
I know Mr. Shackleford is wealthy. Everyone does. And he knows that I'm not working the graveyard shift at a gas station because my family uses hundred dollar bills for toilet paper. This conversation has become personal. Hasn't it? I mean, his list is full of things that everyone already knows about the lives of the rich and famous. All the drama they create. It's public knowledge.
But the poor people list? That's a different story. The media rarely covers the glamorous life of poverty. It's this hidden gem of truth that only the impoverished get to polish. For the list to be genuine, it can only be created from firsthand experience.
So Mr. Shackleford isn't asking what I know about poor people. He's asking me about me. He's asking how bad my circumstances are. Mine, personally. At least that's what it feels like. And I don't like it. Before, it felt as though we were equals in these conversations. I doubt it will ever feel that way again. Have they been personal all along? Have they all been an attempt to ... what, exactly? Get me to admit I'm poor?
Or am I being weird?
I just hope he doesn't want to make me his charity case or something. I could never take anything from him. How do you explain to someone that you were born with the need for self-sufficiency? And anyway, Mr. Shackleford should recognize this.
Just ask him if he wants help getting to his truck. Nooooooope.
"I have to get back to work," I say.
A glint of disappointment passes through his eyes, a reaction slowed by the liquor swimming in him. I've never spurned the Question of the Night before.
"Of course." With shaky hands, he finagles the cap back on the bottle and lowers it into the now-crinkled brown bag. "Some other time then."
No other time, I want to say. Anything theoretical, but nothing personal. Instead I take the bag and twist the top of it for him, as if doing so will keep the bottle from falling out or something.
"Thanks." He taps his fingers sloppily on the counter. I think he's going to say something else, and I'm gearing up to cut him off, but after a few seconds he says, "You have yourself a good night, Miss Vega."
"You too, Mr. Shackleford."
The jingle bells at the front door knock against each other violently when he leaves. I watch as he one-handedly fumbles in his pocket for his truck keys. I vacillate between going outside to help him or picking up where I left off with my calculus. Going outside might mean getting him out of here quicker, or it might mean another attempt at conversation suddenly gone awkward.
After about two minutes of not hearing the engine to Mr. Shackleford's truck roar to life, I glance up. And I wish I hadn't. But some things can't be unseen.
I swallow my heart as I take in the sight of Mr. Shackleford pressed against the side of his truck. His hands are in the air, shaking almost as badly as his knees, which lean in against each other in a need-a- restroom sort of way. The man pointing a rifle in his face is tall — or maybe the cowboy hat he's wearing is meant to make him appear that way. He's wearing an old blue T-shirt like a bandana around his face, nose to neck. I can't even see the guy's ears. Whatever he's saying to Mr. Shackelford, he must be whispering; I haven't heard a word of exchange yet. All I can see is the bandana moving — and Mr. Shackleford's corresponding responses — to the synchronization of a very serious conversation. And Mr. Shackleford's mouth quivers as he talks.
He could have a heart attack right here in front of the store.
On my shift.
The good news is, I'm short. I could easily reach the store shotgun just by lowering my arms behind the counter.
The bad news is, I don't know how to shoot a gun, and the chances of me taking aim before getting myself shot first are slim to none. Plus, I've never been robbed before.
Not that I'm being robbed just yet. In fact, the robber doesn't seem to be interested in me at all. I either pose no threat or he knows that Mr. Shackleford's wallet holds more money than my register does. I decide that this guy is either the world's stupidest criminal for turning his back on me, or I'm the world's dumbest clerk for not running out the back door and calling the cops. It's just that taking the time to run, to call the cops — that's time better spent on helping Mr. Shackelford now. Oh God.
Don't be a hero.
But I'm not being a hero. I'm just being a human.
I snatch up the shotgun and slide over the counter with it, which sends my homework sprawling to the floor with a thud. I almost bust my butt by slipping on one of the stray pieces of paper and I let out a pathetic little scream.
The robber whips his attention my way and that makeshift bandana hides everything but the surprise in his eyes as he takes in the sight of me: a five-foot-four-inch mess pointing the shaky barrel of a gun at him, hoping my finger is on the trigger — and at the same time, hoping it's not.
My legs involuntarily run toward the door, bursting through it, making the jingle bells angry. I'm not graceful, either, like in the movies when an organized SWAT team busts in on a hostage situation. I'm all elbows and knees, running like an ostrich in boots and coordinated as a dazed fly that just got swatted. Oh, but that doesn't stop me. "Get down on the ground," I yell, surprised that my voice doesn't tremble as much as my insides do. "Or I'll blow a hole in your ... I'll shoot you!"
Since I obviously can't decide which part of him sounds the scariest to shoot a hole through, I go for directness. Directness is my specialty, anyway.
"Now, listen here," the guy says, and I swear I've heard that voice before. I scrutinize the eyes widening just over the rim of the bandana but I can't tell what color they are because of the blue fluorescent beer sign in the window right behind us. And there's no way I can form a face out of his hidden features. "Take it easy," he says calmly, as if I'm the one who's cornering a helpless old man against a truck. "I'm not here to hurt you. This is between me and him."
To my surprise and terror, I take a step forward. "I said get down. Now."
Wow, I'm going to die. What if this guy is allergic to bluffing? What if he makes me pull the trigger? I don't even know if the gun's safety is on. Dios mio, I don't even know if the gun has a safety.
The robber considers for several terrifying seconds, then raises his gun at my head, takes three intimidating steps toward me. I back away, hating myself for being a coward. I stop myself before I hit the glass door of the store. Cowardice has a threshold, I guess.
"Here's how it's going to go," he says gruffly. "You're going to leave the gun right there and go back in the store and stand over there by the chips so I can see you." He motions with the end of the gun.
This elicits a huff from beneath the bandana. "Unbelievable."
"You leave your gun here." If he thinks it's a good idea, then I do too. Still, I'm not sure what I'll do if he actually does put his gun down. Secure him with plastic zip ties from the boxes of candy bars that need to be stocked?
"You're a crazy little thing. Do you have a death wish or something?"
Oh God. He truly seems interested in the answer. "I ... I don't want you to hurt Mr. Shackleford."
Rolling his eyes, he says, "Well, put the gun down and I won't."
I want to put the gun down. I do. I want to cooperate. I want to live. But this gun is my only leverage. "No." Did I say no? Did I just say no?
"Fine. Keep the gun. New plan." He uses the back of his hand to wipe some sweat off his forehead. "I'm going to leave. And you're going to let me."
"I'm calling the cops."
"Jesus, who are you? Look, you don't know how to shoot a gun, I can tell. And besides that, I definitely do know how to shoot a gun, so I have the advantage. If you fire at me, I'll shoot back. Understand?" When I hesitate, he adds, "When I start shooting, I'm aiming at the old man first."
"No!" I blurt. "Don't shoot him."
He nods. "I won't. As long as you let me back out of here. Just like this." He takes two steps backward, never dropping the gun.
"But you haven't robbed us yet," I say. Out loud. Idiota.
"Are you freaking kidding me? You want me to rob you?"
I raise my chin a little. "Well ... It's just that ... What did you come here for then?"
He shakes his head, then backs away more toward the end of Mr. Shackleford's truck, never lowering his gun. "You're crazy as a raccoon in daylight, you know that?"
I am crazy. He's right. "You should remember that, if you ever come back here again."
At this he runs, turning his back to me. Sprinting away, he pivots sharply and heads toward the side of the store. It takes me a second to realize what he's doing. Within a few breaths he emerges from the shadows pedaling my bike as if an angry boar were chasing him. The wheels wobble as he struggles to balance it, one hand gripping his gun and the other on the handle.
Right now I have the perfect shot. If I knew how to shoot a gun. And if the safety wasn't on. If it has a safety.
I take aim anyway, cradling the butt of the gun in my shoulder like some kind of hunter, and fantasize about blowing out the back tire of my bike. About this guy face-planting on the asphalt. About that stupid cowboy hat taking flight like a startled bird.
But his silhouette disappears into the night. And the moment is over.
Excerpted from Joyride by Anna Banks. Copyright © 2015 Anna Banks. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In Anna Banks’ novel Joyride, she addresses the extremely realistic problem of immigration. She characterizes her main character, Carly Vega, as a very determined and hard-working young woman who, although secretly hesitant to do so, sacrifices much of her teenage years to her two jobs so she can help her older brother, Julio, bring their parents back across the border. Banks contrasts Carly’s attributes with her foil, Arden Moss, the boy whom she falls for, which make them stand out even more as Arden is a carefree and simple boy who is particularly fond of making his father, the local sheriff and well known racist, completely miserable. The plot develops smoothly as Carly and Arden transition from “just accomplices,” pranking all the locals, to a young couple who are completely dependent on each other. They face many struggles, but nonetheless persevere as they each begin to learn things about themselves that they didn't previously know. Banks chose to write with multiple viewpoints, having each chapter switch perspectives between Carly and Arden, to allow readers to understand that emotions between the two were similar and there weren’t any one-way feelings. Banks beautifully stresses a main theme that opposites attract throughout this young adult story and she is able to pull off concentrating on the sensitive subject of immigration.
Beautiful story. At times it tore my heart out.
This book is almost a modern day Romeo and Juliet, minus the suicide pact. Carly is Mexican, Arden is white. And his father happens to be the extremely racist, small-town sheriff. While they've been going to school together for almost three years, Arden doesn't truly notice Carly until he's planning a late night prank on his (great) Uncle Cletus. From their first interaction it's all spitfire from Carly and determination from Arden. I thoroughly enjoyed the hate turned love plot. Both Arden and Carly are suffering from the loss of their family members. They're both lonely. Carly is working harder than any teen should have to work, helping her brother raise enough money to smuggle her parent and younger siblings into the United States. I was angered a little by her family's attitude towards work vs. education, but I know that it is probably the reality for many poor teenagers. Arden has dropped everything - sports, school work, rules - after his sister's death. He misses his sidekick, so when he sees Carly's spunk, he is desperate to befriend her. He's trying to fill a whole in his life with defiance of his father, whom he blames for his sister's death. There is a lot more depth to this story than I expected. The relationship between Arden and Carly was believable and sweet. Arden is able to get Carly to make time for some more fun in her life, and Carly is able to get Arden to care about his life again. I liked them both so much! Uncle Cletus was also a great role model in place of the less than stellar parents. Anna Banks deals with the tough issues of poverty and illegal immigration, which aren't often addressed in YA fiction. This book was a great, quick read. http://momsradius.blogspot.com/2015/08/book-review-joyride-ya.html
From the cover and lighthearted title, you wouldn't think JOYRIDE touches on issues like immigration, poverty, and the stigmatization of mental illness — but the unusual combination makes it stand out in contemporary YA. Yes, there are pranks and romance, but this book is much more! Read this if you're in the mood for: realistic contemporary YA, diversity, romance, character-driven novels For a complete recommendation, visit This Is What You Should Be Reading! http://www [dot] thisiswhatyoushouldbereading [dot] com/recommendations/2015/5/27/joyride-by-anna-banks
For me, contemporary books are the exact type of book I need when I'm in certain moods and Joyride fulfilled my need for a compelling story with characters that I liked and cared about. It's a good book, although it didn't satisfy me completely. Joyride is largely about overcoming adversity, and this was highlighted particularly well in the story. Reasons to Read: 1. Two different perspectives: Carly and Arden have lived completely different lives, so they each bring their own unique perspective to the story. It's interesting to see how differently they perceive the same events. And the way the book is set up, we end up with two characters who come together and the contrast between them is so stark. But that's what makes it so great watching them grow closer together. It's especially neat since they truly start off as friends first, and that really develops over time into something more. 2. Arden's Uncle Cletus: It might seem strange to include Uncle Cletus as a reason to read Joyride, but it's absolutely true because Cletus is such a fantastic character. He's interesting and both a litle bit sad and amusing. But I really loved seeing how much he cared about both Arden and Carly, and how far he was willing to go to care for them. It's rare to see a secondary character with so much detail like this, but it was done really well and endeared his character and this book to me! Carly is a standout character. She's honest and down-to-earth, and she's used to getting her hands dirty. I loved all of these things about her, and she was a great protagonist. It's rare to have a story where the two main characters face such significant obstacles. But these are real issues that people experience in real life, so Joyride's also an important book in that sense. But there was just something lacking for me. For such serious issues, they weren't addressed very seriously. And the climax, while exciting, didn't strike me as a probable or likely solution given Carly's character. I tend to be pickier with contemporary books so it takes an extraordinary book to really stay with me, and while I enjoyed Joyride it isn't one that stayed with me after I finished reading it. ARC received from publisher for review; no other compensation was received.
Arden is missing a piece of his life and he hopes to get it back with Carly. Carly just wants to fly under the radar but with Arden paying close attention to her, this is not happening. I liked the way these two opposites tried to sideswipe each other, each from different background and with different motives: I was just waiting to see who would wind up on top. Arden is a prankster and being a Sheriff’s son, he wasn’t worried about being caught. He had an accomplice, his sister but since her death he has been looking for someone who could fill her shoes. Arden has given up on a lot of things in life since his sister left him but pranking, it gives him joy. Carly, she lives with her brother and the two of them are saving very penny they can to bring their parents and siblings to the United States. No one knows they are living without their parents and its school and work for Carly most days. Arden convinces Carly to take time to relax and as she does, Carly realizes that there might be more to life than what she was previously doing. Harmless pranks start to turn careless and Arden has a cushion to fall back on while Carly is on her own. Arden’s father has been known to be prejudice and if the pranks don’t get her in trouble, her race might be all Arden’s father needs to make life for Carly and her family difficult. I enjoyed how the author takes you on the journey as the children try to save their family, their devotion and their struggle to become the adults in the family. The story reminded me of a fairy tale, as Carly didn’t want the attention, she was fine and content the way she was and in rode Arden showing her a different life, a life that she was missing. I just wanted a happily ever after in the end but as I read, I was nervous as the story started to wind down and it wasn’t what I was hoping for. Patience, my child, we must allow time to work its magic. I was given a copy of this book from NetGalley and Macmillian Children's Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.
2.5 Stars Joyride is the first book I’ve read by Anna Banks and I have mixed feelings about this book. What did I like? For a Young Adult book the plot was more serious than I was expecting. The storyline was unique in dealing with immigration and mental illness. These are sensitive issues and I felt the author did a good job in expressing the impact it had in Carly and Arden’s lives. The plot twist was surprising and added some excitement to the story. I also liked seeing the character growth in Carly. She’s been working hard to help get her parents back to the US but also keeping up with her school work. I found it annoying that her family put so much pressure on her to support them when it should have been the other way around. Her goal is to get a scholarship for college so seeing her finally stand up for herself was a relief. What didn’t I like? The first half of the book was at a slow pace so I felt bored and almost gave up. There was so much focus on Carly working and the pranks that I was confused with the direction the author was going in. The synopsis states there was a romance but I wasn’t feeling it. It has a really slow build up then all of a sudden it felt rushed. I thought Carly and Arden didn’t make a good connection. It took them forever to talk about their feelings and most of their time was spent on their pranks. Joyride is written in dual point of views which is nice to get a better insight to the main characters. But I thought the POV changes between Carly and Arden weren’t clear and at times it took me a while to figure out whose POV it was. I did enjoy the plot but it felt like there were gaps in the ending. I would have preferred more details at the end and some of the beginning chapters edited out. It would have made the story flow more smoothly and more interesting. Overall I think Joyride was an ok book. As a Young Adult contemporary fiction the plot is interesting and thought provoking. But don’t read this for a swoon worthy romance.
My very favorite thing about Anna Banks--aside from how awesome she is IRL is how she infuses all of her books with her signature wit and humor. JOYRIDE is no different. This is an endearing story with strong characters who are facing tough issues like immigration, family, and trying to figure out who they are in the process. It's not always rainbows and sunshine and kissing. It has it's heartbreaking moments for sure, but overall, JOYRIDE was an entertaining read!
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Joyride by Anna Banks Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication Date: June 2, 2015 Rating: 2 stars Source: ARC sent by the publisher Summary (from Goodreads): A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks. It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico. Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber's mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects. All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh. What I Liked: I think I liked this book? I'm honestly not sure. It's one of those books that you think you enjoy the story, but other things bother you and it leaves you confused as to whether or not you actually liked what you read. I liked Banks' debut, Of Poseidon, wasn't crazy about Of Triton, never read Of Neptune. But I LOVED Anna's adult book, Degrees of Wrong. I think Banks is a talented writer, but I'm not sure if her books work for me. Carly is the daughter of an immigrant family from Mexico. She works during her free time and gives the money to her older brother, who is saving his and her earnings to pay for their parents and twin younger siblings to come to the United States (illegally) across the border. Carly doesn't have time for boys or friends, and doesn't want to be bothered. But Arden Moss, the sheriff's son, is the exact opposite - he wants to do crazy pranks and as little school and work as possible. Carly and Arden meet in a strange situation, and soon, Carly finds herself doing pranks with Arden. But not everything is fun and games when so much is at stake for Carly. On the surface, this is a very humorous and fluffy read. Carly doesn't like Arden at first - she knows him as the popular, charming, good-looking sheriff's son who always has his pick of girls. Carly has zero time for boys or friends, and what's more, she doesn't want the attention. But a situation happens and Arden wants to see her again, and he wants them to hang out and do obnoxious pranks. Arden helps Carly find a better, higher-paying job, and drives her to and from the job. It's not long before Carly's walls come down, but Carly doesn't dare tell him about her family. Arden isn't the manwhore Carly thinks he is. Sure, he's popular and charming. But he's been different since his sister died. No more football, no more ambitions, no more pranks. Not until what happens with Carly - and then Arden decides he wants Carly to join him in his pranking, But he doesn't expect to fall for Carly. I liked Arden for sure. Banks constructs this backstory that is so sad and heartbreaking, and yet Arden is very lifelike and real, even with the emptiness he feels after his sister's death. Arden isn't some rich spoiled boy - he's a sister-less, pretty much father- and mother-less boy. I felt bad for Arden! Also I liked him a lot. I didn't really LOVE the story - it didn't quite hold my interest and attention. Same goes for the issues in the book - I have opinions on immigration and whatnot, but I'll keep them out of this review. For the most part, I really didn't want to read about these issues, one reason being that I knew these would end up cookie-cutter perfect in the end (that's how these books always end). Fiction isn't always realistic, and I know the author wanted a fluffy ending, but meh. What I Did Not Like: Meh. That's kind of the overall feeling I have about this book. I could have not read it and have been neither worse off nor better off. It didn't do anything for me. The hero isn't totally swoonworthy, the heroine isn't someone I'm rooting for. Heck, I don't even like Carly. Carly works and works and works and gives all of her money to her brother to bring her parents to the United States. No offense, but this has always boggled my mind: you're willing to pay someone $20,000+, just hand over that money, for the CHANCE that you'll have someone smuggled over the border? It doesn't seem worth it, especially since most immigrants don't make it over the border. Total waste of money. Of course, we all have opinions of immigration. My point HERE is that a teenage girl in high school should NOT be responsible for bringing her parents and siblings to the United States. Absolutely not. Carly is so passive! She just goes along with it and works herself to death for the slim CHANCE that her parents and siblings will come to the United States (illegally). Seriously, she's working until 2 am at a convenience store, bikes to the trailer park, and then gets up to go to school in a few hours. Not a way to live. Look, I understand this - I work part time to pay my expensive-as-sin tuition bills. My parents don't contribute to my education (they can't afford to do so), so I understand. But there are lines to be drawn. Carly didn't (and doesn't) draw any. I seriously don't understand why she doesn't stick up for herself, to Julio (her brother) or to her parents! My parents were immigrants too! Not from Mexico and not during these tight times of immigration laws, but trust me, I know all about their struggles of having to work weird jobs and try and get citizenship and all that. There's no excuse for her parents FORCING her to work in the United States so they can come back to the United States after being deported. Ugh! Okay I said I would keep my opinion of immigration out of it and I still have... sort of. That was more of my opinion on Carly's role in the immigration thing. She's too passive. Too pushover-y. Too cowardly to actually do what she wants to do. I just didn't like Carly, cover to cover. Not to mention Arden's fascination with her was instant. I don't get it! Ehhhh. Meeehhh. Honestly I should have skipped this one. The ending is so sappy and sugary and perfect and GAG. I really wanted certain things to happen but NOPE, that wouldn't have been fluffy enough! Sometimes I really do not understand contemporary fiction. Would I Recommend It: No. Not really. This book did nothing for me. I didn't root for the protagonist, I wanted there to be a cruel ending, I didn't care for the male protagonist... the romance was okay and the humor was refreshing but this book wasn't necessarily worth the effort to read, to be honest. At least, not during finals week. I thank the publisher for sending me a copy though, I appreciate it. Rating: 2 stars. 2.5 stars? I feel like I didn't do a great job of explaining why I didn't like this book. I just didn't connect with it, or feel some type of way about it. It was just there.