Saturday, February 11, 2012

Ride for Rights by Tara Chevrestt

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: Author
Read: Jan. 23, 2012 

In the summer of 1916 women do not have the right to vote, let alone be motorcycle dispatch riders. Two sisters, Angeline and Adelaide Hanson are determined to prove to the world that not only are women capable of riding motorbikes, but they can ride motorbikes across the United States. Alone. From a dance hall in Chicago to a jail cell in Dodge City, love and trouble both follow Angeline and Adelaide on the dirt roads across the United States. The sisters shout their triumph from Pike’s Peak only to end up lost in the Salt Lake desert. Will they make it to their goal of Los Angeles or will too many mishaps prevent them from reaching their destination and thus, hinder their desire to prove that women can do it?

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I’m not going to pretend I don’t enjoy the occasional paranormal story adventure but I can’t help getting depressed browsing young adult lit. All the vampires, werewolves and whatnot are starting to run together. With Ride for Rights, Chevrestt pulls a complete one eighty. The author’s first foray into the world of historic fiction is a refreshing narrative of adventure and perseverance in a time too many of have seemingly forgotten. 

Less than a century ago career women were few and far between. Many had only limited involvement in activities unrelated to homemaking and child-rearing. Societal rules were highly restrictive where women were concerned yet even in this climate there were those who took a stand against inequality. Angeline and Adelaide Hanson are fictional characters but their courage of conviction and unwavering dedication exhibited in their journey across North America are as real as the women on which they were based. 

In addition to introducing readers to a lesser known chapter of the women’s rights movement, Chevrestt uses her story as a platform for the stories of other advocates and pioneers in the struggle against gender based discrimination. Inez Milholland, Amelia Earhart and Lillian Heath are only a few of the notable ladies who make cameo appearances throughout the book.  

I have great appreciation for the content and overall message of Ride for Rights but as with most of my reviews, I am not without criticism. I believe the author opted to name her characters Adelaide and Angeline out of respect for their real life counterparts. While I admire the author’s intent, I found it somewhat challenging to keep Adelaide and Angeline straight during the early chapters of the book. Despite frequently substituting the wrong sister in my imagination I found that as the novel progressed and the characters developed my confusion dissipated, eventually becoming a nonissue. 

The only other comment I have is that Angeline enjoys more face time with the reader than her sister. Angeline’s vivacious nature, her relationship with Joe Miller and access to her diary allow considerable insight into her character. Adelaide is the more reserved of the two, making her harder to relate to even when she appears at the forefront. I would have appreciated having a slightly deeper understanding of her character especially as her ultimate transformation is more dramatic than that of Angeline. 

Clearly, at four stars, these observations are of little consequence. Consider my more critical comments food for thought, a few drops the bucket if you will. It is my opinion Chevrestt has single-handedly crafted an entertaining story with an enduring message that can be enjoyed by young and old alike. 

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Angeline smiled and broke into a laugh. “Who are you, and what have you done with my sensible, calm sister?”
Adelaide wrapped the horrid garments around the chamber pot and as she raised her arm even with the window, looked at Angeline. “She got left somewhere on the road in Wyoming!”
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Jenny Q said...

Great review! I'm reading this one next week and am looking forward to it!

Anonymous said...

Well worth it. :)