Riptide

Title: Riptide
Author: Lindsey Scheibe
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Pages: 288
Genre: Contemporary
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 3/5

For Grace Parker, surfing is all about the ride and the moment. Everything else disappears. She can forget that her best friend, Ford Watson, has a crush on her that she can’t reciprocate. She can forget how badly she wants to get a surf scholarship to UC San Diego. She can forget the pressure of her parents’ impossibly high expectations.

When Ford enters Grace into a surf competition—the only way she can impress the UCSD surfing scouts—she has one summer to train and prepare. Will she gain everything she’s ever wanted or lose the only things that ever mattered?

riptide-cover

I don’t think this book is as bad as people keep saying it is. I wouldn’t say I really liked it, but I didn’t strongly dislike it, either. I think it’ll be a book I forget about pretty quickly, but not because it’s so terrible and I want to repress the memory or anything. From reviews I’ve read so far, it seems people are mostly disappointed in it because it is marketed as a surfing book, when really it’s an issue book. I, for one, was glad the focus wasn’t solely surfing, but at the same time wished there was a bit more of it throughout the story. For whatever reason, I just never truly felt Grace or Ford’s passion for it, and it seems to me it was more used as a metaphor for what was going on in Grace’s life.

I actually wished there was a bit more focus on the abuse Grace suffered at the hands of her father. Obviously there were definitely scenes where it happened, but I couldn’t tell if the book wanted to focus on the surfing or the abuse issue. To me, it seemed like the book ought to have been more about the abuse, but that’s just my opinion. Something I think Scheibe did well, however, was to make the father more human, and not just plain evil. I could tell she was trying to make the situation more complex and not so black-and-white, and was trying to understand the father’s actions as much as she knew her readers would. I don’t think she did the same with the mother, and while in real life I would have sympathy for a person like that and understand that abusive relationships are far from easy to get out of, the way Grace talked about her and to her sapped away most of my sympathy for her. Just because a woman stays in an abusive relationship doesn’t mean she’s weak, and although I think Scheibe tried to explore why Grace’s mother would stay with Jack, it seemed to me that the ultimate conclusion she came to was that the mother was weak.

I also thought Ford’s interest in immigration laws took away from the surfing aspect that so many people were looking forward to, although to me it was very interesting and added a layer to the story I definitely hadn’t been expecting. I feel like Grace and Ford’s stories could maybe have been written as separate books so all the issues could get their fair share of the spotlight.

Something I wasn’t so into was the dialogue and voice of both characters. It was a little too teenager-y for me, in a way that it might be more how adults think teenagers talk than how they actually talk. Ford and Grace both have similar voices and seem like they’re speaking in a way to try to be cool or something. I found Ford’s voice significantly less annoying than Grace’s, and actually wished the book was written from just his perspective. He had a lot more complex issues going on than Grace did, and I was always a little disappointed when his chapters ended. His story was also slightly less predictable than Grace’s, which you pretty much know what the turnout will be from the first chapter.

All in all, I wasn’t super impressed by Lindsey Scheibe’s debut, but I didn’t think it was terrible, either. There were some aspects of the story that had potential, but ultimately I think this will be a forgettable read for me.

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