JOYRIDE by Gretchen Olson


Age Range: 10 - 13
Email this review


 An affluent Oregon teenager undergoes some value adjustment when he's forced to help a grower with the strawberry harvest in this earnest and engaging debut. After ramming his Bronco into a water pump on a nighttime jaunt across a bean field, Jeff faces a month's labor to work off the debt. It comes at the worst possible time, as far as he's concerned, for he's angling for a sports scholarship for college and there is a major tennis tournament coming up. Initially uncomfortable with the crew of migrant workers, not to mention the farmer's hostile daughter, Alexa, Jeff fits in quickly; he discovers that he cares more and more about both the crop and the people, and is predictably surprised to learn that one of the rewards of hard physical labor is a new edge on the tennis court. With engrossing authority, Olson describes the trials and satisfactions of running a farm, the process of harvesting, and though she sidesteps many of the controversial aspects of using migrant labor, every comment about ``beaners'' or ``wetbacks'' draws an instant and crushing rejoinder from one character or another. A likable cast and several small plot twists buoy up the agenda, and at peak moments the author's competent prose shows glimmers of something finer. Some will want to balance this employer's-eye view of migrant labor with books such as S. Beth Atkin's Voices from the Fields (1993, not reviewed), but Olson knows how to keep readers turning the pages. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-56397-687-0
Page count: 200pp
Publisher: Boyds Mills
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1998