I just read the most amazing book ever last night and I can’t wait to write about it. Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Full Ride is just a completely amazing book and I don’t even know what aspect of the book to write about first. I think I’ll start with the concept. Haddix took a news headline, Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme and subsequent fraud conviction, and reimagined it as a fictional story. In this novel Becca Jones is fourteen years old and looking forward to starting high school with her popular crowd of friends when her father is suddenly arrested and put on trial for embezzlement. When Becca’s father is found guilty and sent to prison Becca is completely without friends and she and her mother are without money. In the midst of Becca’s embarrassment and shame her mother has the idea that they should move to tiny Deskins, Ohio; her mother can work as a nurse and she and Becca can reinvent themselves where no one has any idea who they are. On Becca’s first day in her new school she realizes that she must keep a low profile so her classmates never find out her real identity. She decides that the she can’t be popular like she was at her old school; the best thing to do is to fill her schedule with honors and advanced placement classes. That way she’ll be too busy with schoolwork to socialize, therefore limiting the the chances that she will slip up and say something that she shouldn’t.
Becca’s plan works beautifully except for the fact that she’s lonely; she only sees her friends at school because inviting them to her house could lead to too many questions. Becca’s plan works so well, in fact, that by the time she’s a senior she’s ranked fourth in her class and excited about applying to colleges. Becca’s mother quashes her excitement, though, by telling her that she can’t apply for financial aid without revealing who she really is. Becca wonders why it matters anymore if anyone knows her identity, but she doesn’t press her mother. Instead she starts to focus on a great scholarship opportunity that could mean that her four years of college could be totally paid for, which would be the perfect solution.
The scholarship seems too good to be true and in a way that turns out to be the case because it leads Becca on an odyssey that takes her down some very unexpected paths. The wonderful thing about this book is that it leads the reader down some very unexpected paths as well. I loved Becca and I was rooting for her throughout the entire book. I felt her loneliness and wished that she could open up to her friends; I felt her disappointment and anger that she could not pursue her dreams after having sacrificed and lost so much. Because of that the road trip that Becca embarks on toward the end of the novel is much sweeter. I highly recommend Full Ride; it’s a good, fast-paced read that left me with a lot to think about.