LEXI is a rich girl who loves a good rush. Whether it’s motorcycle racing or BASE jumping off a building in downtown Los Angeles, the only times she feels alive are when she and her friends are executing one of their dares. After her father’s arrest, Lexi doesn’t think twice about going undercover at his bank to steal the evidence that might clear his name. She enlists her hacker brother and her daredevil friends to plan a clever heist.
CHRISTIAN is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. The local gang has blackmailed him and his friends into robbing banks, and he is desperate for a way out. When the boss promises that one really big job will be the last he ever has to do, Christian jumps at the chance for freedom. In fact, he’s just met a girl at the bank who might even prove useful. . . .
Two heists. One score. The only thing standing in their way is each other.
Told in alternating points of view, this caper is full of romance and fast-paced fun. Hand to fans of Perfect Chemistry, The Conspiracy of Us, and Heist Society.
|Publisher:||Random House Children's Books|
|Sold by:||Random House|
|File size:||2 MB|
|Age Range:||12 Years|
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I’m breathless by the time we reach the helipad on top of the US Bank Tower—exactly 1,018 feet above LA. The city sprawls out beneath us in all directions, a wide carpet of neon and white lights that dazzles me after the relative dark of the stairwell. It is heady stuff, seeing the world from this high, dizzying . . . and exactly what I need right now.
I laugh a little. My father was arrested this morning for a bank-fraud scheme that I still don’t completely understand, and I’m the one preparing to jump off a building. I look over at my big brother, Quinn, and he’s laughing, too—probably having the same thought I am—that this is crazy, but a strangely Lexi-appropriate way to cheer ourselves up. He wouldn’t be up here if it weren’t for me. He says yes to my schemes because he likes to think of himself as my protector. I’m glad he does. I wouldn’t have nearly as much fun doing this on my own.
Our tight band of friends and fellow adrenaline junkies are gathered around Quinn and me—Oliver, Leo, and Elena. Five of us altogether. Elena’s sister, Whitney, is the only one missing—if you don’t count Derek, that is, and I don’t. Whitney had to distract the night guard while we sneaked into the stairwell, and she’ll drive the car to pick us up after we’ve gone over the edge. Derek’s not here, because I didn’t invite him. After tonight he won’t be part of our little group anymore. Not that he really was to begin with. Just because we’ve been dating doesn’t earn him a permanent place with us. I feel a twinge of guilt about it and maybe something else, something more difficult to pinpoint, but I don’t want to dwell on that now. Not here. All in all, the vibe is right for this jump. And somehow the number for our group is back to normal. It feels decidedly lucky. We all feel it, I can tell.
Everyone’s eyes are bright, their cheeks flushed. The impending free fall has them revved, has me revved. I can feel my whole body humming with a high that comes only from doing something outrageous, a high that most of the ground dwellers below us never experience. Alcohol and drugs can’t touch it. It’s 100 percent pure adrenaline and it’s amazing. Addictive. No matter what maneuver we have planned—this jump or the motorcycle race we pulled off in the spillway last month—the thrill never weakens. These moments are the only times I ever feel truly alive.
It’s the same for all of us, even Quinn, though he won’t usually admit it and complains whenever I come up with some new dare. It’s probably the main reason why we’re all friends in the first place. It’s how we choose to deal with problems. We don’t have to face them if we keep moving fast enough, if things are exciting enough. If we keep distracting ourselves.
Leo shuts the stairwell door, so we’re stuck out here. The only exit now is jumping. The slam of the closing door makes me wince, reminding me of this morning and the way our front door banged against the foyer wall as the FBI agents invaded our house, one after another rushing in, hands on their guns, eyes scanning every inch of our home like our whole lives were suspect and not just my father’s. My heart was thundering in my chest then, too, especially as they dragged my father out into the yard, morning stubble shadowing his chin, his skin an ashen, guilty shade. I hated the way it felt in that moment, like my heart might start contracting—charley-horsing—and never stop.
My father’s in jail. Right now. Somewhere down there, in a cell. If he’s convicted, he’ll be in there until I’m his age, maybe longer.
I shake my head. I don’t want to think about that anymore. That’s why I’m up here. Quinn, too.
Keep moving; distract yourself and the hurt you feel will fade, I tell myself.
“The security cameras are still down, but we don’t have much time,” Quinn says, adjusting his gear one last time. My brother is a computer genius. He hacked the security from his laptop a week ago so that tonight’s feed is of old footage. If they figure out we were up here, there won’t be any recorded evidence. We are basically ghosts.
“This wind is ridiculous!” shouts Leo, my best friend in the whole world, his eyes squinted against it and steadily tearing up. His freckles are pronounced against his pale face.
“We need to get on one of the outcroppings over there to make sure we clear the building,” I say, gesturing to the right.
Leo lifts the camera he’s carrying and looks through the lens, adjusts it, then looks again and starts snapping pictures of us: first Quinn, looking like Jason Bourne in his all-black clothes, and then Oliver and Elena, who are on the edge of the helipad platform with their arms around each other. “Your turn,” he says as he turns his camera on me.
I put my helmet under one arm and strike a pose. The rhinestones on my fingernails catch the light from the flash and look like twinkling stars for a second. I decided a while ago to embrace my inner bling monster—the Jimmy Choo–wearing, Prada bag–carrying creature my mother raised me to be. As much as rebelling against anything that makes her happy appeals to me, I actually love all that stuff. Shallow or not, I don’t care. The girlie glamour is too enticing, the dress-up fun of it. When I was little, I was obsessed with the girls in James Bond movies—sexy and beautiful, but tough, too. Doing things like this jump makes me feel like one of them. Invincible.
“You’re beautiful,” Leo says, not a trace of lust evident in his voice. This makes the compliment that much more flattering because there’s no agenda attached to it. Plus, it doesn’t make me want to squirm the way it would if, say, Derek said it. When he said it.
“Good,” I say, beaming.
“All right, enough pictures, let’s go!” As usual, Oliver is amped, ready. This is especially true tonight, since his father’s construction company just finished the renovation of this building. That’s part of why we chose it. And because I’m a sucker for an architecturally distinct locale. It infuses the jump with a little extra finesse. Oliver has spent most of his life under the strict eye of his father, a man so rigid and physically abusive that he drove Oliver’s mom back to her native Japan and powerful enough that he managed to maintain custody of his kids. By sneaking to the top of a building his father helped renovate, Oliver is defying him without actually having to do it to his face and risk his father’s anger.
“Chill out. Rushing means mistakes,” I say. I haven’t pored over building plans, structural details, weather conditions, and city maps just to leap off the instant Oliver decides he’s ready. “We do it as planned, and that means climbing down to the ledge and then flying.”
Tonight’s maneuver is my baby, my contribution to the BAM (short for badass maneuvers) book we keep, an adrenaline-soaked alternative to a slam book, where we record all our adventures—documented meticulously with Leo’s photos and Elena’s near-poetic descriptions of them. We started it to cheer up Oliver after his parents’ divorce, a sort of joke that over the years became something bigger. Now we have more than twenty pages of capers, most of them directly related to crappy moments in one or all of our lives. Like my dad’s arrest. Or Leo’s mom’s breakdown.
I put on my helmet and motion for everyone to follow me toward the far corner of the pad. We get on our stomachs and, one by one, lower ourselves to the narrow shelf below that borders the whole building, coming to points every so often so that from the sky it must look a bit like a starburst. The point nearest us is the one we need to use—far from the stairway flanking the opposite side of the building and the other obstructions. Landing on them would be deadly.
Together we climb onto the lip that separates the shelf from the open sky, arms out like tightrope walkers’ poles, the wind prodding at our backs, threatening to unbalance us. The streets below are mostly quiet this late at night, but there are still cars here and there, slowly making their way toward the freeway, the drivers totally unaware that we are up here watching them. Seeing the rest of the world from this high is freeing because it’s too far away to feel real.
“Say ‘BAM,’ ” Leo says as he snaps another picture that includes, I’m sure, the giant billboard with an advertisement for Left Coast Construction, Oliver’s dad’s company, plainly visible in the distance. Oliver will probably be tempted to hang it up in his room. The flash is blinding and I sway a bit.
“Hey, cut it out, man,” Oliver grumbles, struggling to balance. Elena latches on to his arm to keep from falling. He looks down at her and his expression softens. “How about a kiss, Lanie? For luck.” He pulls her closer, leans in to nuzzle her neck. This thing developing between them is about a year old and more intimate than I think any of us expected. Watching them feels odd, wrong. I’m not sure I like it. If it goes bad, it’ll mess up our group. Elena’s not good at staying faithful, though I think with Oliver she’s trying. Still, the odds are against them.
Elena rolls her eyes. “I guess if it’s in the name of luck . . .” She tilts her head up and presses her lips to his as Leo takes another picture.
I look from Quinn to Leo to Oliver to Elena.
When the moment is right, I can always feel it. I look over the edge, hold a hand in the air, and judge the wind. Yep. Perfect.
“Let’s do this. I’m going first, okay?” I say.
“No. No deal. I go first. Or we don’t go,” Quinn says in his best big-brother-in-charge voice, all low and firm and businesslike.
I don’t fight him. He’s the one guy I let tell me what to do. He has my back no matter what. The only one in our family who does. My father sure doesn’t. Even if I didn’t already know that, today makes it glaringly obvious. And my mother is the poster girl for bad decision-making. She said as much when the FBI agents pulled my father outside this morning. “Marrying you was a mistake,” she told Dad right up close, their noses nearly touching, her voice loud enough that all the neighbors gawking at the spectacle from the sidewalk could hear. Her face was pinched, her eyes streaming tears. “How could I have been so stupid?” The question isn’t new. She asks it every time she and my father have a fight. It’s meant to hurt him, but it hurts me, too. It makes me feel like maybe Quinn and I are part of what she regrets, extra ties to this man who she obviously doesn’t love, who she maybe never loved. Sometimes when she says it, it makes me hate her. And sometimes it makes me hate my father for somehow tricking her into marrying him, but mostly it just makes me promise myself that I won’t do what she did. I will never let some guy get so close that I get fooled into a destiny that I don’t want.
“Okay. Fine. You go first. Steal my thunder. Rain on my parade,” I tease, putting a hand on Quinn’s shoulder and squeezing it. “See you on the ground, big brother.” He leans his head to one side and rests it on my shoulder for a second, so unexpectedly tender that my throat feels thick and strangled, and I want to cry. He’s the only guy I will ever depend on.
“Oh man, you got this!” Oliver hollers over a loud gust of wind. He’s all riled up, jazzed like he’s tempted to try to chest-bump the sky.
As nervous as I am for BASE jumps—and I am always nervous, because even with months of prep and practice, the risk is enormous—waiting for Quinn to land is always the worst part, that moment when I have an image of him falling fast, his chute not opening, then him hitting the ground. The picture in my mind is so sharp that I almost hear the heavy thud of his body’s impact. It would be all my fault if he did. My idea. My jump. My risk. I have to fight the urge to tell him to sit this one out.
“Three, two, one.” He looks back at me long enough to wink and then dives straight out, arms spread wide, embracing the night. His chute deploys, an explosion of fabric. It fans out, filling with air, and he disappears beneath it.
“Later, losers,” Oliver says. He jumps without a countdown, saluting us with one hand as he steps out into the sky, his body already tilting forward into a stomach-down position.
Quinn’s almost on the ground, arcing his way toward the street and the grassy area that’s our landing spot. I breathe for the first time since he jumped.
“Beautiful up here,” Leo says, taking it all in one last time. He grins at me, his helmet cam on, the red light a staring eye. He blows me a kiss and takes a swan dive, looking like one of Peter Pan’s Lost Boys or something, flying without pixie dust.
“Here goes,” Elena squeals, and then she’s gone, too, screaming madly all the way down. I stand on the ledge a moment more. Alone. I wait, my hand going to the zippered pouch on my jacket where I keep my phone. I pull it out and unlock it, then look up the last few texts from Derek. I feel this need to read through them one more time. Up here it’s easier to know what I want.
Where are you? Thought we were supposed to meet for coffee. UR late. WTF?
It’s the WTF that bothers me most—angry and entitled, like I owe him something. There are more. Three more. The first one’s angry, the last one concerned.
The news. God. Your dad. Call me.
And that’s the one that did it. Put the nail in the coffin for me. I don’t want to talk about my dad with him.
I finally leave a text of my own. A cowardly one, I think, but I don’t let that stop me.
It’s over. Sorry. I can’t do this right now.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Smash & Grab by Amy Christine Parker is a fun mash-up of the Ocean’s and Point Break with a little Goodfellas thrown in. And did I mention that it is a YA? It is, and it seems like all of these elements should not work together, but they actually do. Lexi is a spoiled rich girl who only feels alive when she is pushing the limits to get an adrenaline rush. As we meet her, she is BASE jumping off of a skyscraper the same day her father is arrested for embezzlement. At the same time scrappy Christian is scoping out a new bank to rob. He is trying to keep his family safe from the local gang and sees no way out. After a chance encounter, Lexi and Christian team up and plan the heist to end all heists, and hopefully save both of their families at the same time. I liked the plot of Smash & Grab. It was not a typical YA and I really loved that there was no insta-love. The stories of the two main characters felt like they fit together and there was no forcing a relationship. The writing of Amy Christine Parker was funny and sharp. She had a way of writing each character (the chapters alternated narrators) with a distinct voice, I always knew whose chapter it was. The pacing had a few blips where time would jump faster than it had, but it did not harm the story. The world created was interesting. I got much more of a feel for where Christian lived and worked then I did for Lexi. There was a nice emotional overlay to this read. The two teens doing whatever they can to save their families and their futures was one nice layer and then the romance was a great other layer. Now as for the characters, I loved Christian, he was a good kid doing what he felt he needed to do for his family. Lexi however, was pretty much a super spoiled brat. However, she grew during the book and also grew on me. Smash & Grab was a fun read. Sometimes you just need a book that does not take itself too seriously. Like, teen bank robbing gangs are not a normal YA feature. Amy Christine Parker crafted a tale that was a nice change of pace for me and I loved the way she crafted the romance. This is a perfect summer read; a bit of intrigue, a bit of love and a smidgen of blockbuster action. Favorite lines – Sometimes people who are stuck in a really deep hole don’t see the point in trying to get out. The climb just feels too high. And when you want to escape, they get all freaked out because if you actually manage to get out, they’re stuck in the hole alone. Original review @ 125Pages.com I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Looking for a fun summer read full adrenaline, twisty plots, and angsty love attractions? Well look no further! Sometimes I love to delve into NA/YA reads and this shiny cover and blurb appealed to me. I was curious to the synopsis and more to how the book will pull off the subject of a bank heist and revenge/redemption in a NA setting. All while not juvenilizing the book as a whole. I loved both the privileged and eternally bored adrenaline seeking group that included our main Heroine Lexi who like her opposite Christian was the driving force of the group. Christian too has his own group, a group of high schools who have close ties to Mexican Mafia, who are successful bank robbers thanks to his brains and cautious planning. By total fate he runs into our Adrenaline Junkie Lexi while casing a new bank to hit. However, Lexi is up to no good herself as she is on a mission herself posing undercover to clear her father’s name. It just happens her father was arrested for shady doings at his bank and Lexi is not convinced it was his doing entirely. So while the two try to play spy/robber they discover their attraction for each other is not the only thing they have in common. They both have plans to rob the bank but for all the different reasons. These kids might be HS kids but they are way mature and up to no good. Where are they parents??? Oh wait right nowhere around. In the end the only solution is to pair up both groups to create a mega group that can handle the biggest heist… but at what cost??? In the end, I was left satisfied. While some of the situations and problems that the group ran into got resolved rather quickly and conveniently, the story kept moving along at a fast pace. The most important for me when reading is not to get bored in pointless side story lines that do not drive the story and happy for me this book did not fall into that pattern. Each delve into character meant something. Each story while left you feeling “why so much overshare” made sense once all the pieces came together in the end. While the story itself reads as a high fiction blockbuster movie heist it was still an awesome read. After all isn’t that why we read fiction stories?
“These moments are the only times I ever feel truly alive.” When I read the synopsis for Smash and Grab, I was SO excited! I own all of Amy Christine Parker’s other books but I haven’t read them yet. (See BookDragon Phenomenon #21: Own 12093430923 books, but never read them) I rarely ever find young adult books about heists and adrenaline and just the thrill of being a criminal. And so, when I got approved for this one on NetGalley, I was ecstatic! And now, just a bit after finishing the book, I realise I have no strong feelings about the heist, or the characters, and that just disappoints me. Let’s break this down, yeah? Lexi is a rich kid. Lexi’s dad was arrested for mortgage fraud, making her whole life implode. Lexi and her friends are a bunch of daredevils, looking for the next big thrill, be it drag racing or jumping off a high rise in the middle of the city. Christian is the polar opposite. Living under the control of the Mexican Mafia in Florencia Heights, he’s forced to do unlawful things (aka rob banks) just to keep his family safe and pay off his father’s gambling debts. Under normal circumstances, these two would never have been friends, but with a twist of fate, a bank robbery and a makeover later, here they are. Planning a heist that will be worth over 50 million dollars, and the possibility of clearing someone’s name. What can go wrong? “I think it’s better if we keep this strictly professional,” she says. I laugh. “Baby, there is nothing professional about what we’re doing.” Her mouth quirks up. “Okay, so we keep it strictly criminal then.” While the idea behind Smash and Grab was brilliant, and the characters were brilliant as well, the execution just wasn’t done well enough, on Lexi’s side. I love the criminal and the rich girl storyline, the overprotective brother, the gay best friend, the abused other friend and everyone else. When it was Lexi’s point of view these otherwise amazing characters were barely given thought to, and I wish there was more of them and their personalities in the book, because they seemed really awesome. When it came to Christian, however, his side of the crew, their families and their motivations were REALLY well done. I supposed they needed it more too, but still. I would have love more secondary character depth. That would have all been acceptable too, if I had, even once after the first chapter, FELT THE ADRENALINE. There was a fifty million dollar heist going on, and I was feeling NOTHING. All in all, I just wish this book was MORE, but I did like it because it was definitely different. Three stars.
SMASH & GRAB by Amy Christine Parker is a fast-paced, thrilling story of two teens from completely different sides of the tracks who are brought together under unlikely circumstances: a bank heist. Lexi and Christian are intelligent, interesting, and well developed characters. Their chemistry is off the charts and never felt forced. Although this book is completely and utterly far-fetched, it is absolutely one of the most enjoyable reads of the summer! Pure and simple: it’s a heap of fun! Run, don’t walk, to snag yourself a copy!