I did wonder, initially, how I was going to connect with this book – not knowing anything about Bull Riding, or caring much
about Skate Boarding, and not coming from Nevada, or even the United States. However, I do know 14 year old boys, and however much they try to hide it with grunts and bad haircuts, there are sensitive hearts and undeveloped amygdalas making their lives very confusing and difficult to navigate. Especially when other family stuff is going on – and other stuff is often going on. The author
describes this well. The teenage desire to be the centre of the universe, while being left well alone; the conflict of needing to be different and needing to belong; the distancing from the intensive parenting of earlier years, while still desperately needing to be parented. This is some of what I take from the book.
Cam is fourteen, and he loves boarding – or that is what he tells us. I’m not entirely sure that it ever quite rang true for me. It doesn’t take a lot to distract him from boarding. To me it was the classic avoidance passion. He was determined not to be a bull rider because he was worried he would never be as good as Ben – his big brother, whom he idolises. Boarding really represented his need to be different and his need to find his own passion. Of course, inevitably bull-riding does become an important part of his life, as he struggles with the results of a devastating family event.
Cam feels powerless to help, until he hits on the idea of riding a particularly large and nasty beast, called Ugly, to win 15 000
dollars, but to do this he has to use a little bit of subterfuge.
Along the way, Cam faces friendship issues, fallen idol issues, battles with his parents and his own self-confidence. A strong relationship with two of his grandparents helps him along the way. This is a great book that I think many boys will enjoy. I have put it in the 12+ category mostly because I think the content is more appropriate for slightly older children, but it is not a difficult read at all.
I would rate this at about a 3.5 / 5, perhaps getting closer to a 4 than a 3. Definitely worth a read!