Though I worked at a summer camp for six years, growing up, I wasn’t a horse girl. Being a horse girl was and is ex-pen-sive.
I had an innate knowledge of what my parents could and could not afford – they were relentlessly clear about that – and I knew what things I shouldn’t even bother asking for. Pony rides? We weren’t that family. Lessons? I was not that girl. A horse of my own? BE SERIOUS. Victoria, the heroine in Ride On has a similar understanding — her single mother is an accountant, not a business mogul who hangs out with billionaires (except if she is doing their taxes, probably). Time with horses is something that Victoria has to achieve on her own, and she mucks out stables, walks and cools horses, and cleans saddles to earn it. All of that is, incidentally, messy, sometimes smelly, sweaty work.
All of that takes time. Sometimes, when you have to work for something, your friends who are privileged to have more just do not understand. Worse, they resent the time you put in – or they resent the time you don’t have for them.
Been there? Yep, Victoria too.
Victoria had loved horses since she was tiny, but when her best friend at Waverly Stables gets a horse of her own – and forbids Victoria from riding her – Victoria realizes their priorities have shifted. Taylor wants to compete – to ride at Olympic level. Victoria just wants to ride, period. The pressure to compete is too much for Victoria, who changes stables. Edgewood is smaller, and while it doesn’t have all the fancy amenities, it has what Victoria’s after – horses.
She’s been hurt, though. Victoria’s grand (and not at all smart) plan is to avoid getting entangled in new friendships, and just focus on the horses, but the crew at Edgewood – Norrie, Sam, and Gillian – thwart her plans with genuineness, friendliness, and an opportunity to recapture a part of her that she shut away in elementary school, when her parents divorced.
This book brings up fandoms, and there’s more I could say about the freedom of expression and community that they embody and create, but I admit that I can be a little inarticulate about them. Suffice it to say that a fandom can be a place where someone whose intense passion for a fictional something which doesn’t fit in with the rest of their world – be their interest too nerdy, too geeky, or somehow too MUCH – a fandom can simply be a place to, finally, even just lurking on the margins, belong. And the idea that both horses, which are a more “respectable,” rich-person passion, and space opera, which in some respects is considered a bit more irrational, can coexist within one book makes this an especially magical read. It’s about acceptance. It’s about belonging. It’s about loving what we love in the way that we love it – and it being just fine, any way we do it. The inclusiveness of that is a lovely thing.
It’s always a little hard for me to review graphic novels because I can’t give you all the pictures that made the book wonderful for me. I can’t explain the perfectly the detail of Victoria’s hair being completely turquoise in flashbacks, and fading to aqua and then more and more brown as the book goes makes the images show movement. I can’t explain my sense that maybe, just maybe Gillian has kind of wakened up to the idea of BOYS, yet isn’t having it that Sam and Victoria kind of like each other. I don’t know how the plethora of tiny details that are conveyed through the director of a character’s eyes, or their body posture — allow Faith Erin Hicks to do with a few digital penstrokes what writers do with words… But I do know it means I need to go and read all of her graphic novels.
I truly resonated with the emotions in this book, and enjoyed it. I wish the same for you.
Until the next book, 📖
Still A Constant Reader