April 30, 2013

Book Review: Riding On Air by Maggie Gilbert

At First Sight: At 16, Melissa dreams of becoming a champion at Dressage with her horse Jinx, an already difficult goal that is even more complicated due to the fact that Melissa has JRA (Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis) and sometimes her hands get so stiff she can barely stand the pain.

But now, her dream seems to be within reach as she and Jinx caught the eye of the person in charge of selecting the national juvenile team and they have a big competition coming up.

Yet everything is put in jeopardy because of Melissa's illness and what she's doing trying to manage the pain - sneaking pills, and working through it even though she knows she shouldn't - as she clings to her dream, without realizing how much she's damaging herself, her chances and her relationships with friends, family and her new boyfriend.  

Second Glance: There were two things the drew me to Riding on Air, one that it featured horses and horses are awesome and not nearly in enough books! We need more horses!! And the second was the JRA thing - I used to be tested for it once or twice a year when I was in elementary school, so I knew what kind of disease it was and was intrigued to see how it was woven to the story.

And I have to say that Ms Gilbert did a great job addressing JRA and it's effects on Melissa's day to day life, not only her riding - she is always mindful of her hands, she has to have special mugs and has to get her brothers to do her hair because she just can't handle a brush most of the time, etc - and you get the sense that it really does suck to have JRA - which totally does.

Beyond that, it was a great story in other aspects too, Melissa has a great relationship her stepmom and stepbrothers Gavin and Brendan (even though they are older and kind into doing their own things, they still care about Melissa), and her parents actually pay attention to what's going on with her, even if they are divorced.

Melissa's friends were a bit more of a mixed bag because sometimes they were really annoying, particularly Tash, but they were there for Melissa when needed be. Melissa herself could be kind of reckless and annoying sometimes too, but she was also very likable, and I felt for her and for what she goes through.

William was a great boyfriend, by the way, there was definitely some swoonage going on for me, though sometimes he sounded a bit older than the 18 year old he was supposed to be.

The whole horse aspect was fun too, though I admit some of the stuff mentioned just went over my head because I'm not very familiar with Dressage and horse sports, but you could tell Melissa was very passionate about it.

Oh, and I loved the Australian setting!

Bottom Line: I quite liked Riding on Air, it was a sweet contemporary romance, I loved the setting and  the characters and I look forward to reading more from this author. 

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