Sandra Alonzo’s first YA novel is a powerful, gut-twisting take on the journal concept made popular by Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.  Her tale focuses on a 15-year old boy named Yancy, who lives in a dysfunctional household that is dominated by his mentally unstable brother, Will.  When Will slashes off Yancy’s horse’s tail, Yancy hightails it out of the city and rides off into a new life, or so he thinks.

Riding Invisible is written like Yancy’s personal notebook, complete with appropriate illustrations that Yancy doodles in between his entries done by Nathan Huang.  Alonzo manages to properly convey the angst of Yancy’s life, and the insanity Will brings to him, his parents, and to his horse, Shy.  Yancy is very believable, and the narrative bounces along at a solid clip, with a tense concluding climax that will bring all of Yancy’s newfound discoveries about himself front and center against Will.  Alonzo has a great talent towards developing her main characters*, and Yancy’s plight is one that can easily be conceivable.  Her use of language is also excellent, with proper use of profanity that doesn’t go overboard, a vocabulary that would be befitting of the age, and the proper emotions being expressed. 

The only nitpick I could say about the book is the quick development of Yancy and Christi’s relationship, who become a romantic couple in a blisteringly short clip of pages after introducing themselves to each other.  The bond they build is well told, but it happens rather fast, and while I can suspend my misgivings about it because these kinds of things do happen, it felt a little forced.  Outside of that, though, this is a fantastic YA read, one that I would highly recommend.

Riding Invisible, by Sandra Alonzo
Hyperion Books, Hardcover, $15.99
Order a copy here!

Review based on a final retail copy of the book I had purchased.

* (disclaimer – I have had the benefit of reading a draft of hers for a different book, which I was paid for, but the monetary factor does not influence my opinion of her storytelling ability, since I had bought this book from the store individually)