Goodreads: Ride On
Age Category: Middle Grade
Victoria loves riding, but no longer wants the pressure or expense of competing. Her best friend Taylor, however, cannot understand this, leading the two to a dramatic fight. Victoria decides to start over at a new stable, where she will not make the mistake of trying to make new friends. But soon she realizes that everyone needs someone in their corner.
Ride On is, of course, the perfect book to recommend to any tween or young tween obsessed with horses. It is also, however, a moving contemporary story about changing priorities and friendships, one that will delight fans of graphic novels such as Smile, Twins, and Real Friends. Faith Erin Hicks chronicles the struggles of growing up and growing away from old friends with real insight and sympathy, creating a story sure to resonate with any reader who has ever felt like they did not quite belong.
Ride On acknowledges from the start that the world of riding, while amazing, is also one that can be full of pressure and one that may prove inaccessible to those without the money. While it is heartbreaking to watch Victoria’s friend Taylor not understand how Victoria might want to enjoy riding for the sake of riding, instead of feeling the need to compete, it somehow feels worse to watch Taylor refuse to acknowledge Victoria’s financial worries. Taylor’s dreams of winning ribbons is one thing; her refusal to admit that she can only do this because her parents are wealthy is amazingly obtuse. I just wanted her, for one moment, to validate Victoria’s feelings. But if you are looking for an easy story about easily mended friendships, this is not it.
Fortunately, however, Ride On does hold out hope to readers. Although Victoria’s initial instinct is to protect herself from any future harm by refusing all new friendship, that, of course, cannot last long. Everyone needs a friend, or someone to support them, and Victoria quickly finds people who accept her for who she is. Watching the riders at her new stable reach out, validate her feelings, and offer to support her only in the ways she is comfortable with, is truly heartwarming. But there are plenty of laughs and lighthearted moments, too!
I always love a good middle grade graphic novel focused on friendships, and Ride On does not disappoint. If there was anything I wanted, it was for the story to be longer! It is simply too endearing for it to end so soon!