________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 17. . . .January 3, 2014


TT Full Throttle.

Nicole Winters.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2013.
264 pp., pbk., hc. & ebook, $12.95 (pbk.), $19.95 (hc.), $9.95 (ebook).
ISBN 978-1-4594-0516-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4594-0515-8 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-4594-0517-2 (ebook).

Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up.

Review by Jenice Batiforra.

*** /4



We fly by pit road, and birds scatter in the far fields. Neil and Mike are in tight, flanking me hard, so I push it going into the first corner. I lean my bike over, my knee lightly kissing the ground as I glide through the turn. I'm the first coming out of it. Corners are my specialty. They're like breathing.

I barrel down the straightaway, counting four, five, six seconds in my head before downshifting into the tight left-hand hairpin. A quick check - Neil and Mutton Chops are glued at the hip with Mr. Black nipping at their heels. I come out of the bend and it's full throttle, reaching for that red line. As soon as the needle tips it, I pull back and drift over to my right, entering the series of S's. I give 'er hard as I come out of them, then gun it down the next straightaway because I know that's when Neil's going to try to make up time - a classic move my dad pointed out. He could read any rider like a book. That guy keeps his arms and shoulders tense; that guy goes too fast into the corner, giving him bad under-steer. And in Neil's case, he brakes too late in the turns, loses time, and tries to make up for it in the straightaways, but then brakes late and brakes too hard. Don't get me wrong, Neil's damn good. He also got an invite to the TT.


Scott and his father have planned and worked towards racing in the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Race (TT) for years. But when Scott’s father dies unexpectedly from a racing accident, the TT becomes an obsession that focuses Scott's grief as he becomes resolute in fulfilling his father's dream. Nicole Winters has written a fast-paced story from a first-person narrative. Her descriptions of Scott's thoughts as he races down a track realistically convey the excitement and adrenaline rush a biker feels during a competition. Her rapid fire description of what it's like to ride a bike at 160 mph and her enthusiastic articulation of motorcycle mechanics should have teen boys (however reluctant the reader) tearing through the pages of the novel and Googling videos of the infamous Isle of Man TT, statistically the most dangerous motorcycle race in the world.

     In TT Full Throttle, Winters has successfully delivered an action-packed young adult novel without skimping on character development . . . and without the teen angst. Scott's narrative shows a committed young man who struggles to overcome his own rage and grief by focussing on the details of the TT: maintaining his bike, keeping physically fit and mind mapping over two hundred bends within a 67 kilometre track. The reader cannot help but be understanding as Scott controls his impatience with his best friend who frequently gets distracted from race preparation, his hostility towards his roommate Dean, an ex-juvenile delinquent who is trying to make a new start, and his ever increasing attraction to Mags, a gorgeous and ambitious young woman who dreams of becoming a pro mechanic for a top racer.

     Winters' telling of the TT reveals a depth to the racing community by conveying more than just its members’ love for speed and fast machines. She shows their love for the sport by depicting the sacrifices they make, the risks they take and the tragedies they suffer. Interspersed throughout Scott's mental and physical preparations are realistic portraits of the community that supports the sport that he loves - the methodical mechanics dedicated to their craft; and the families and friends that stand in the sidelines filled with both fear and excitement as they anxiously await for their loved ones to return.

     Overall, Winters has written a fast-paced story that is recommended for motorcycle enthusiasts. Teachers and librarians should note that there are a few scenes containing swear words; however, they are appropriate for the context.


Jenice Batiforra was previously a Branch Head Librarian at the Winnipeg Public Library in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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