Shredded

Shredded - Karen Avivi
*grabs soap box*

*attempts to stand on soap box* 

“EVERYBODY LISTEN U-”

*falls off rickety soap box*

*mutters*

Not to sound preachy but if you’re under the age of 20, this is the book you SHOULD be reading. This is the main character you SHOULD look up to and her story is the one that SHOULDinspire you to follow your dreams. 

I’d pretty much given up on YA-Contemporary before this book was suggested to me (by my obviously genius friend) on the premise that it bucked a lot of the trends and tropes that tend to lead to my epic bitch-fits. She was right. This book has single handedly saved the entire genre for me. It’s THAT good. In fact, this book is so good it made me want to start shouting empowerment slogans at the top of my lungs like some sort of deranged Spice Girl. 

“I am woman, hear me roar!”

“Girl Power!” 

“Zig-a-zig-ah!” 

Oops, scratch that last one, got carried away. 

Anywho, the sentiment stands. You see, Josie, our 17 year old MC, is a badass. The book opens with her attempting to do her first public back flip (ON A BIKE) in a crowded skate park surrounded by boys. Is she internally freaking out? A little. And who wouldn’t be? Have you seen the carnage on YouTube resulting from failed bike tricks?! Regardless of this, her fears fly from her mind the second she starts plummeting down the incline ramp. Why? See the second sentence in this paragraph. 

Not only is she a BAMF but she also understands that the world doesn’t owe her a damn thing just for being born. She realizes that if you want something done you have to do it. And if you want to change people’s perceptions you have to show them why they should pay attention and why your cause matters. You can bitch and whine about inequality and discrimination til the cows come home but you know what? At the end of the day, you did nothing aside from raising a ruckus. 

What does Josie want you to pay attention to? Female BMX riders like herself. In this story they’ve pretty much been pushed out of the professional American circuit because a) there are so few of them b) the few that exist garner little media attention and c) some douchebags with pull think they can’t take a fall like the boys can. Cue eyetwitching. 

FYI, Josie can take a fall. Remember that carnage I mentioned a minute ago? Yeah, that happens to her. Three days before her junior prom. But does she let it get her down? Hell no. Even with full-body road rash, two black eyes and an arm in a sling she gets all dolled up and goes. Why? See the second sentence three paragraphs up. 

I loved that she could be a daredevil and still want to put on a beautiful dress and go to prom. So often we see female athletes and tomboys portrayed in extremes in literature. They abhor anything pink (because pink is the debil), avoid high heels like the plague and think that to be able to hang with the guys, they have to stuff their undies with gym socks. It’s nice to finally see a girl that’s not afraid to live in both worlds, embracing both her athleticism and her feminism.

Okay, so being a badass is great and all but it’s not enough for Josie and her friends. They’re sick of being the only girls getting air in half pipes and being pushed out of competitions so they hatch a plan to garner some positive media attention and convince merch franchises and event pushers to recruit and welcome more females onto the pro circuit. 

They spend their summer on a road trip across the Midwest, hitting every big BMX event they can. Along the way they win some medals, pull off some bad ass tricks, meet more female riders, forge lasting friendships, host a clinic to encourage young girls to start riding and end up with more YouTube hits than some of the popular males in their profession. 

I can’t tell you how refreshing this book was on so many levels. Guess what? There’s no main love interest! You just fainted didn’t you? It’s okay, I understand. I’ll give you a second to gather yourself. You good? Sweet, glad to have you back. 

I’m not saying there aren’t boys and crushes and a little drama in this book. The main character is seventeen after all and we all remember being that age. But the boys definitely take a backseat to the female friendships and the importance of the girls’ goals and dreams. Their struggle to realize those dreams is the main story here. And a struggle it is. A lot of people don’t take them seriously. Even Josie’s parents think her BMX obsession is a “phase” and that once she gets it out of her system she’ll go to college and get “a real job”. Our girl handles everyone beautifully by the way. Instead of becoming angsty or whiny she keeps her mouth shut and let’s her riding speak for itself. 

Okay my girl-crush is starting so show, moving on!

Another reason you’ll love this book is the support cast. None of them are clichéd. Just when I thought I had someone pegged as an airhead or another as the typical male best friend that secretly wuvs the MC, my perceptions were blown out of the water. HOW REFRESHING. I especially loved Connor, Josie’s prom date. He’s like some evil mastermind in the making. Every time he made an appearance I was cracking up. And her friend Lauren was hands down the biggest bad ass of them all. She’s one of only three girls with the iron ovaries to drop into a fifty foot ramp at one of their BMX events. You might not be that blown away by this but I’m guessing that’s because you don’t realize that one wobbly landing on a ramp like that can lead to the type of injuries you shouldn’t look up if you have a weak stomach. Trust me, I Googled them. 

*shudder*

Here’s a clip of some real-life pros breaking down what riding on a MegaRamp is like:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bacBSB...

Like I said. Iron. Ovaries. 

Think this book might not be for you because you don’t know much about BMX? Think again. Not only is the BMX world and the parks and tricks within it spectacularly detailed without feeling like information overload and the competitions adrenaline rush inducing but at its heart, this book is about more than extreme sports. It’s about actions speaking louder than words, going after what you really want regardless of what others think and staying true to yourself and your dreams.

Really, I just can’t say enough about this book or about Josie. I was 100% behind her from the moment I met her until the very last page. If you’re looking for a Contemporary Young Adult novel that breaks the mold, this is it.