I love summer books. I love the romance of summer. I love books about different vacation spots. I love books about road trips. I love seeing the beach on the cover of a book. To celebrate this lovely season, every Thursday I’m going to post a book and review of a summer book I’d recommend reading by the pool, at the beach, while driving across America (or whatever country you call home), in a hammock, in a cabin, on a boat, or at home as you dream of vacation. Happy Summer, everyone!
A sexy and poignant romantic tale of a young daredevil pilot caught between two brothers.
When I was fourteen, I made a decision. If I was doomed to live in a trailer park next to an airport, I could complain about the smell of the jet fuel like my mom, I could drink myself to death over the noise like everybody else, or I could learn to fly.
Heaven Beach, South Carolina, is anything but, if you live at the low-rent end of town. All her life, Leah Jones has been the grown-up in her family, while her mother moves from boyfriend to boyfriend, letting any available money slip out of her hands. At school, they may diss Leah as trash, but she’s the one who negotiates with the landlord when the rent’s not paid. At fourteen, she’s the one who gets a job at the nearby airstrip.
But there’s one way Leah can escape reality. Saving every penny she can, she begs quiet Mr. Hall, who runs an aerial banner-advertising business at the airstrip and also offers flight lessons, to take her up just once. Leaving the trailer park far beneath her and swooping out over the sea is a rush greater than anything she’s ever experienced, and when Mr. Hall offers to give her cut-rate flight lessons, she feels ready to touch the sky.
By the time she’s a high school senior, Leah has become a good enough pilot that Mr. Hall offers her a job flying a banner plane. It seems like a dream come true . . . but turns out to be just as fleeting as any dream. Mr. Hall dies suddenly, leaving everything he owned in the hands of his teenage sons: golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson. And they’re determined to keep the banner planes flying.
Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business—until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers—and the consequences could be deadly.
The bulk of the story, after the initial background and set-up, takes place over the spring break of Leah’s senior year. She is dating a jerk, her mother is never (for real, never) home, and she is still trying to get over Mr. Hall’s death, when Grayson comes to her demanding that she work for him over spring break and the summer in the banner business. Oh, and he also wants her to date Alec, and blackmails her to do so.
I was a bit disappointed in Such a Rush. I was so excited to when I won this in a Goodreads first-reads contest, but it just didn’t live up to my expectations. On the plus side, the idea of a young, female pilot is very cool and original. I did find Grayson appealing despite myself, and the tension between them is definitely sexy. I liked her best friend, Molly, although that relationship is also one of my complaints. Finally, after a slow start where it really wasn’t holding my attention for more than a couple of pages at a time for the first few days, it finally started picking up and I found it easy to get through for the last 3/4 of the book.
The biggest negative for me was Leah, herself. She is a poor, tough girl from a rough neighborhood and with a dead-beat mother. I got what the author was trying to do, but I hated certain aspects of her character. The biggest was her constant use of the word whore. The version I read is an ARC, but the word whore is used repeatedly. Leah calls herself a whore, calls other girls whores, talks about the whores on the boardwalk, etc. I hate that word. Hate it. On one two page spread it is used roughly 7-8 times. Again, I understand her character’s perception because of her up-bringing, but it made me cringe every time. Tying into that is her friendship with Molly, a rich girl who moved to town a couple of years earlier. The two became friends after they almost fought over a boy, and carry on this tough girl friendship where the call each bitches to show how tough they are. Leah also constantly describes her clothes as short and tight and too small, and tries to blame all the other girls in town dislike for her on her hair.
This review is more harsh than I want it to be, but these things really got to me while I was reading. Despite its flaws, I did end up enjoying Such a Rush. Again, it is an original YA book, but it is also definitely an older teen read. It ended being more serious than I was expecting, although this is the first book by Jennifer Echols that I read, so maybe all of her books are more serious than their cutesy covers belie. Even though it was deeper than I was expecting, it was still sexy and cute in parts. Overall, I think that readers who enjoy older, contemporary YA will enjoy this one. Probably more than I did.