________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 30. . . .April 6, 2018


Rides That Way.

Susan Ketchen.
Fernie, BC: Oolichan Books, 2016.
190 pp., trade pbk., $15.95.
ISBN 978-0-88982-321-1.

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14.

Review by Ruth McMahon.

*** /4



I poke through my dresser looking for something suitable to wear to school – clothes that show I am strong and athletic and not to be messed with. There’s nothing like that in my wardrobe. I am almost fifteen, but my clothes are all designed to fit an undeveloped eight year old, because I have Turner Syndrome. I will never be taller than four feet ten inches, and I will not develop unless I take estrogen. There is a box full of estrogen patches in the back right corner of my top drawer. I see it has been moved from where I carefully placed it. Mom’s been snooping again. Well, I won’t be starting estrogen today, that’s for sure. Today I want to enjoy the pure satisfaction of my success as an athlete. I’m not interested in the complications and developments that will come with a surge of hormones. I’ve only just arrived as this new triumphant me – why would I change now? I re adjust the position of the box so it is again not quite in the corner of the drawer, then drape a pair of socks of the edge so I’ll know if Mom comes back on another espionage mission.


Rides That Way is the fourth in Susan Ketchen’s series (Born That Way, Made That Way, Grows That Way). By the time we get to Rides That Way, we have learned that Sylvia has Turner Syndrome, a rare genetic anomaly that affects one in 2,000 to 2,500 births and only affects females (Turner Syndrome Society of Canada). The most notable signs of Turner Syndrome is short stature. Although this syndrome is a major part of Sylvia’s story and does, to a degree, set Sylvia apart from her peers, Ketchen does not dwell on Sylvia’s uniqueness, but rather focuses on the aspects of adolescence she shares with her peers.

     The story opens with Sylvia riding her horse Brooklyn in a competition where she has possibly pushed her horse beyond its limits. Her exhilaration is tempered by the apprehensive reaction of her coach and her cousin. As Sylvia reflects on her relationship with her horse, her riding coach, her family and her potential love interest, Sylvia finds herself coming to terms with her future and how to make the best choice for herself regarding managing her Turner Syndrome.

     Sylvia’s first person narrative, albeit perhaps too naïve, is a refreshing change from the cheeky tone of many current narrators. She is genuine, unaffected and sincere in her presentation of herself. Naturally, we see the other characters through her lens, but, as she is a gentle, loving person, the reflection of the other characters is unaffected and can be taken at face value.

     There is good drama that keeps the pages turning, although the climax does not come from the bulk of the plot of this book. Instead, it comes from drama that has built up in previous books of this series. In other words, if you are reading this title as a stand alone, which certainly works, the part at the end where a classmate is dealing with a sexual predator comes as a bit of a surprise.

     The stable is the best drawn locale. The sights, sounds and smells of life with horses are easy to conjure.

     The struggle is to know where this book might fit in a school library. The innocence of Sylvia’s voice and her naivety doesn’t always match up with the plot. Readers looking for a gentle horse book will be shaken by some of the mature subject matter while readers looking for something edgy may find Sylvia’s voice implausibly naïve.

     However, Rides That Way is a refreshing narrative which stands nicely on its own and will be sought after by fans of the first three titles in this series.


Ruth McMahon is a professional librarian working in a high school library in Lethbridge, AB.

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

© CM Association

Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
ISSN 1201-9364
This Creative Commons license allows you to download the review and share it with others as long as you credit the CM Association. You cannot change the review in any way or use it commercially.

Commercial use is available through a contract with the CM Association. This Creative Commons license allows publishers whose works are being reviewed to download and share said CM reviews provided you credit the CM Association.

Next Review | Table of Contents for This Issue - April 6, 2018.

CM Home
| Back Issues | Search | CM Archive | Profiles Archive