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The Long Ride

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Member Reviews

Thank you publisher and netgalley for the early copy!

This was well-crafted middle grade that it recommend checking out.
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The Long Ride is a quiet but powerful novel that explores the difficulty of adapting to middle school and a new environment set against the backdrop of integration in 1971. The book depicts three mixed race girls who are friends who find themselves pulled apart by various forces: Francesca goes to private school, and while Josie and Jamila attend the newly integrated school together, Josie drifts away because she is not in the special classes with Jamila. Jamila struggles to make friends and carve a place for herself in this new school as an outsider and a biracial person who doesn't fit neatly into the binary of Black and white that divides her school and society. Jamila must also deal with the ups and downs of her first crush, especially the burden of hiding it from her parents, who are strict about her dating life, and the jealousy of a fellow seventh grader. The book does a good job of portraying the complex and difficult experience of racism that pervaded mixed race life and the project of racial integration.
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Our history classes have an unfortunate tendency to paint the Civil Rights Movement as a simple solution that "fixed" racism. They ignore the misguided attempts to equalize things that followed, efforts that lead to red-lining, disastrous busing, and increases in subtle racism and classism. And that's what Budhos is bringing into the light here. By centering her plot on a trio of upper middle class mixed race girls, we get an insight into racism, classism, and sexism, all of which are a regular part of the society they live in. These girls have no where to belong at the point in their lives where belonging feels most important. She takes us through the obvious clashes of race and class, leading us to more subtle messages about perception. The ultimate message of this book is how our self-perception affects how others see us. There's a lot of take away on a single read and the reader is likely to glean even more on a repeat.
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I’m going to be honest, this story didn’t pull me in at all and the pace was slow. I had to set it down for a bit then comeback to it. Now that I’ve completed the book, I’m still not sure how I feel about it. The story, plot, characters, something is missing. Overall I didn’t love or hate this one. 

Thank you Wendy Lamb Books/Random House & NetGalley for gifting this copy in exchange for an honest review.
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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is the first historical fiction book I’ve read about bussing in New York. I really enjoyed the characters and how the author didn’t shy away from hard issues. I liked it!
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It is the 1970s in NYC and 3 girls are part of an experiment to force integration by bussing them across town.  But one girl's parent object and she is sent to a private school instead.  All 3 of them encounter difficulties during the transition - prejudice, assumptions, new friendships, boys and the struggle to fit in.  Can they stay true to themselves?
This was a quick read and pretty thought provoking.  How do adult decisions affect the lives of the children?  Good historical insight.
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It pains me greatly to call this historical fiction, because I'm about the same age as the girls in the story, who are going into middle school in 1971. These three girls, Jamila, Josie, and Francesca have been best friends their whole lives. But they are going to be bussed to a different neighborhood for racial equality. Francesca's parents decide to put her into private school but Jamila and Josie go for a 45 minute bus ride each way each day to get to school. They don't know anyone so they're trying to make new friends and remain friends. Each of them deals with a different part of racism-Francesca wants to be friends and the boys treat her like a sexual object. Josie is put into lower level classes and has to work extra hard to be taken seriously as a student. Jamila is called names and threatened by girls who don't think she's black enough. It's a really interesting story. I liked how all the girls started the book with solid family structure (one of them falls apart during the book) and how the parents also had to deal with different aspects of racism. I thought it was a good story.
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**I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

While it felt genuinely well-intentioned, this book fell very flat for me.

Positives:

The main character’s voice was very authentic. I liked the concept of dealing with segregation and mixed-race kids, and I thought addressing school system issues and middle graders was a great idea.
. 
Negatives:

I was confused by most the book. The plot really went nowhere; the book ends exactly where it starts, with the characters not having grown or changed at all. Scenes jump without scene breaks, characters appear and disappear without notice, and characters draw conclusions not supported by the text, making it a very difficult story to follow. Random interactions occur consistently that do nothing to move the storyline, and the story is full of random and pointless events. No conflict is overcome, it just fades away without resolution or growth.

The story was just incredibly weak, as much as I feel bad saying that, strongly lacking morals or themes. There was nothing inherently terrible per se about it, but it was just a really weak novel. Things were explained poorly or not at all; I’m still confused on the setting, and if not for a few—and I mean a few, like maybe three—lines about the girls being mixed race and segregration, I wouldn’t have even be able to tell this time period. The whole concept of switching schools was never fully explained; why they were an experiment, never really explained; just almost nothing was explained. Like the reader is just expected to understand, when in reality, we’re utterly lost. There are instances of misbehavior and references to sexual behavior, but no morality—again, the story strongly lacked in the moral and theme department. 

Not recommended.
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The Long Ride
by Marina Budhos

Random House Children’s

Wendy Lamb Books

Children’s Fiction

Pub Date 24 Sep 2019

I am reviewing a copy of The Long Ride through Random House Children’s/ Wendy Lamb Books and Netgalley:

Jamila Clarke, Josie Rivera and Francesca George are three mixed race girls are close friends whose parents all immigrated to the U.S working hard so they could settle down in a neighborhood with the best schools. The girls are outsiders but they have each other until In the tumult of 1970s New York City, seventh graders are bussed from their neighborhood in Queens to integrate a new school in South Jamaica. Jamila and Josie get bussed to the same school but Francesca is sent to a another school.

At the start of the seventh grade the girls learn they will be part of an experiment, taking a long bus ride to the brand new school whose goal is to mix black and white kids. Their parents do not want them to be experiments so Francesca parents send her to a private school. Jamila and Josie find themselves having to take the bus without Francesca.

While Francesca tests her limits, Josie and Jamila try to establish their footing at a school they really don’t belong in.

I give The Long Ride five out of five stars!

Happy Reading!
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I received an arc of this book on netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I liked how this book was different and how it included the bussing and its related controversies. On the other hand, it was a little hard to get into and the cover didn't seem super historically accurate- other than that, it's a good book!
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Jamila, Francesca and Josie all live in the Cedar Gardens neighborhood of Queens, New York in 1971. For the coming school year, their neighborhood, which is largely white, will be bused to a school which is largely people of color. Since the girls are all racially mixed and somewhat unusual in their neighborhood, Jamila is interested in going to a school where she doesn't stand out for a change, even if her father is concerned about sending his daughter to a "bad" neighborhood. Before school starts, Francesca announces that she will be attending a private school, and this is yet another change. Jamila has a fairly good experience at her new school, although some teachers and other students are mean, and she is very concerned that the much quieter Josie is no longer in the accelerated classes because of her test scores. She starts hanging out with John, who is Black, and this causes some of the other girls to tell her she should stay with her "own" race. Jamila wants to hang out with John outside of school, but her family doesn't want her to be in his neighborhood. When he and his friend, Darren (who is interested in Josie) visit Jamila's neighborhood, they run into trouble. It's a difficult situation to navigate, and at the end of the school year, the busing is discontinued. 

Strengths: Finally! I've been waiting and waiting for a book on busing. Interestingly, this is similar to Sharon Robinson's story in her new Child of the Dream, in that the two girls being sent to another neighborhood were not white, which is an interesting twist. There is plenty of middle school drama with the girls, with Francesca being a little more daring and Josie being a lot less daring, and Jamila just trying to figure out how to get along at school, at home, and with her friends. I always enjoy this author's work, so was thrilled to see this one. 
Weaknesses: There could have been a little more discussion about busing and civil rights during this period of history. There was something about the first few chapters that I found a little confusing, and I know that my students don't have much background knowledge about this time period. I personally would have liked more period details (think Hood's Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.)
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, but I wish the cover showed actual 1970s fashions. Pretty sure no one under the age of 70 wore skirts that long, and I know in Ohio, girls could only wear slacks to school in the winter!
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This brief historical fiction covers many topics that will appeal to young readers- changing friendships, identity, new schools, and blossoming romantic relationships. It is a highly engaging story that has the possibility of providing the basis for meaningful discussions with students regarding the issues of school desegregation and bussing. Highly recommend.
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While The Long Ride had a cool historical setting and an interesting premise, this book just didn't click for me.

I liked that this middle-grade novel was set in 1970's Queens and that it was about young, mixed girls who take the "long ride" to a school where they are supposed to feel able to fit in more - something that actually happened at this time. Segregation was illegal by the 70's in the US, but schoolchildren of color, like our three protagonists still faced major problems in school at the hands of their white classmates. These issues were portrayed in a realistic way, and the means by which the main character, Jamila, reacted to racism that was aimed at her was believable - she was immature at times, but she's only a seventh-grader in the story, anyways. 

I was expecting to get a message out of The Long Ride, or at least be able to think deeply about something after finishing it, but that didn't happen. We all know that middle-grade books can and do make you think about life, and I wish The Long Ride was one of those. It seemed a little shallow to me because the plot didn't dive into anything much deeper than "Girl is sad and mad about going to a new school." The Long Ride was average, which is sad because it has the potential to be a lot better. 

Also, I wasn't a fan of the romance between Jamila and John. It was played as a "forbidden romance," and I'm not exactly sure why that was necessary.
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This was such a powerful read. A perfect middle grade novel that works to tackle difficult topics such as racism, segregation, and bias within the community. I think this specifically would be an awesome book to use in small book groups, and to give students a chance to discuss.
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I loved this book! I will be recommending it to all my middle grade readers! Thank you for this opportunity to connect books to their readers.
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