When Sasha’s computer hacking reveals compromising information about the Russian president, her government minister father sends the Russian teen and her mother to Canada until things cool down—but trouble soon finds her in her new home.
The CREW, outwardly a popular all-girl do-gooder group, seems like the exact thing Sasha needs to turn her life around. But she quickly realizes that the gang is about making money, not giving it out. Schemes include scamming nursing home residents out of their bank information, entrapping pedophiles with seminaked photos, and creating a fake animal rights foundation. Martha, the leader, blackmails Sasha to keep her in line, forcing her to decide how far she’s willing to go to meet the group’s increasingly extreme demands. In Epic Fail, by Cristy Watson (Dead to Me, 2016, etc.), white teen Jared fails to warn his friend Kenzie about his brother and his violent friends. Her rape and subsequent torment continue to haunt him. In Saving Grad, by Karen Spafford-Fitz (Vanish, 2013, etc.), 17-year-old Vienna, who has some Métis heritage, takes advantage of her stepfather’s brief hospitalization to escape his domestic violence and get herself and her mother to safety. Sixteen-year-old Kanika, who is black, is abducted, gang-raped, and forced into prostitution in Ride or Die, by Wanda Lauren Taylor. The endings of these gritty books are, at best, mixed. Unfortunately, while the stories themselves are compelling, most end on notes of uncertainty that don’t indicate that any real healing took place or that perpetrators were fully held to account. In addition to the diverse protagonists, many secondary characters also bring diversity to the series, including a Chinese-Canadian adoptee, a gay high school student, and a young woman who uses a wheelchair.
A fast-paced Canadian reluctant reader series that spends too much time in the darkness. (Fiction. 16-18)