Tuesday, October 8, 2019

"The Long Ride"

Marina Budhos is an author of award-winning fiction and nonfiction. Her novels include Watched, a follow-up to Ask Me No Questions.

Budhos applied the Page 69 Test to her newest novel, The Long Ride, and reported the following:
Interestingly, page 69 is the first page of Part 2 i.e. the second act of the book. So in some sense it is representative, in that it’s the point at which all the elements have been set in motion—new school, boy, strain on friendships—and my main character is settling in, navigating seventh grade.

The chapter is called “Cowboy” – his actual name is John Wayne and Jamila’s brother Karim teases her every time “the cowboy calls.”

What follows:
John and I start talking on the phone almost every night.

It’s one month into seventh grade. Every morning me and Josie talk, but never about her and SP. It’s not like I’ve come up with any great ideas anyway. Josie has made friends with Angela, who’s in her homeroom, and I see them a lot, chatting in the halls or going over to the handball courts. Jill Siegel has made two new friends: Lonnie and Ronnie, twins who live in the neighborhood by the school. Jill tells me proudly, “They’re geniuses.” Ronnie wants to be a veterinarian and Lonnie an entomologist. I have to look that up—bugs. Lonnie wants to study bugs! Jill seems happy, though. She and the twins walk together in the hall and do study hall in the library, whispering excitedly about their math equations.
Jamila is trying to find her place in this new experimental school. She’s got her beau—though as the first line indicates, all they do is talk on the phone nearly every night. John lives in the neighborhood she’s been bussed to—a poorer neighborhood her parents don’t want her spending time in. And she’s also aware of how, in this supposedly integrated environment, in fact kids are tracked and separated according to their academic ‘abilities.’ Her best friend Josie, who is quiet and less assertive, has been placed in the ‘regular’ track, which makes Jamila burn. She’s determined to set things right. So these are the two important through lines—crossing the gulf between her world and John’s—he’s the slender thread of connection she has in this bewildering school. And fighting for Josie, her best friend, to be seen the way she is—smart, capable—in the eyes of the teachers and administrators.
Visit Marina Budhos's website.

Writers Read: Marina Budhos.

My Book, The Movie: The Long Ride.

--Marshal Zeringue