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Riding Invisible: An Adventure Journal    by Sandra Alonzo & Nathan Huang order for
Riding Invisible
by Sandra Alonzo
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2010 (2010)

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* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Riding Invisible is unlike any novel I have ever read. Instead of the typical narrative, Sandra Alonzo tells the whole story though main character Yancy Aparicio's journal (which also includes poetry). Since Yancy is also an artist, illustrator Nathan Huang provides artwork here and there. The pages themselves even look like a journal lined and in a font that resembles precise but not perfect printing.

The reason fifteen-year-old Yancy is writing an adventure journal is because he is running away from home. His home life is none too great since his sixteen-year-old brother Will has Conduct Disorder which worsens as he ages. Will's most recent attack on his brother involved cutting the tail of Yancy's horse Shy and then slicing Shy's flank with scissors. Will then made death threats against Shy, which is why Yancy packed up and took off (with Shy) for Palmdale, fifty miles away.

Yancy's life on the road is not much better, but at least Shy is safe from Will. Things do turn around, though, when Tavo (a Mexican ranch hand) picks Yancy up and takes him to the ranch where he works, telling his employer that Yancy is his nephew. Yancy enjoys working on the farm and knowing that Shy is safe, but Tavo's stories about his life back in Mexico get Yancy thinking about his own life and what he really wants from it.

Riding Invisible is raw and gritty but very realistic. Yancy is one of the truest characters I have come across in YA fiction, and I think a lot of that stems from the format in which Alonzo chose to write his story. Even though it is published by Disney/Hyperion and illustrated, this is not a book for kids. Yancy tells it like it is, complete with a few disturbing scenes involving Will, and quite a bit of language. This also makes the story seem real.

Sandra Alonzo has written a book that will find its place among recommended teen lit, right up there with classics like S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders. Nathan Huang's art enhances the story and makes it feel like an actual journal. Riding Invisible is definitely a book to be read and discussed.

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