CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 8 . . . .December 8, 2006
Chelsea’s Ride. (Not Just Proms & Parties).
Patricia G. Penny.
Montreal, PQ: Lobster Press, 2006.
140 pp., pbk., $10.95.
Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.
Review by Alicia Jinkerson.
His car started up with a roar. The muffler would be blowing out sometime soon. She watched as they backed down the driveway and out of her sight. It was a crappy car. But it was a car. And it was his. The answer came to her suddenly, as though Denny Waddell had hit her full speed with his rusted set of wheels.
She smiled with satisfaction as she turned away from the window. Denny could be her chauffeur.
When Chelsea Davidson’s parents take away the car keys, she has to find a transportation alternative. A humiliating well depicted trip of her first experience with public transit has her begging for change from fellow passengers. She is consequently ripped off as a girl dumps a pile of change in her hand in exchange for Chelsea’s five dollar bill. A unique aspect of this series is that Chelsea does not hold a monopoly on bad behaviour. She finds this out later when “the guy that could make centerfold of Playgirl” uses her to make his ex-girlfriend jealous.
Chelsea Davidson is never a likeable character. That may be one of the most notable qualities of this new series. Chelsea is despicable in a believable way. She does, however, have some redeeming qualities which keep her portrayal realistic and interesting. What is delicious about Chelsea’s wickedness is that she is not afraid to say what some people might think but not say. Her tongue is sharp, but never as sharp or callous as the infamous American “Gossip Girls” series. This is a softer approach, with more meaningful relationships and less focus on sex. What sex there is in this novel is surprisingly casual, however, and I feel that this pushes the novel into the teen genre.
Chelsea doesn’t necessarily realize the error of her ways by the end of the novel, but she does face some form of divine retribution for her crimes. She’s selfish and conceited and from start to finish. She does become more understanding of her sister, and perhaps closer, though they remain very different. It is also not really clear how such seemingly normal and dedicated parents could have such an egotistical daughter, one that practically qualifies as a sociopath, when the other daughter is perfectly normal.
This novel is short, which is great for the reluctant teen reader. It is a cozy and somewhat comforting read. There are very few characters to keep track of. The plot is straightforward and somewhat predictable. Chelsea uses one boy to get what she wants and finds out how it feels to be hurt when another boy uses her. As the blurb on the back cover states, this is a series “in which young women cope with the overwhelming problems of everyday life.” I think this description may be a little inaccurate, unless having “no car” in high school is an overwhelming problem. If it is an attempt at mockery, they are forgetting who the reader is!
While other teen reads dwell on tragedy and darkness, Patricia G. Penny’s take on everyday life, is a nice bit of light fare.
Alicia Jinkerson is a former elementary school teacher and currently works as a children’s librarian in North Vancouver, BC.
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