Our January Let’s Read Rant Repeat Book Club discussion is tonight, March 21, 2021 at 7:00pm CST! If you want to join in on the discussion, head to our instagram stories at 7:00pm, where we’ll be live over on @letsreadrantrepeat!
About Let’s Read Rant Repeat
Bookstagram is such a wonderful community and I have met quite a few folks that I now consider to be friends. One of these is Jordan from @readwithwine and together we host a Virtual Book Club @letsreadrantrepeat. Our aim is to read a variety of genres, constantly switching it up to ensure we are reading something everyone will enjoy. Each month we choose 1 book that can be practically any type of story. We host a group chat with fellow book lovers on Instagram, where we can talk about the book as we read. At the end of the month (a specified Sunday at 7pm CST) Jordan and I get together for wine & an Instagram Live discussion. We generally invite guests from our group chat to share their thoughts on the book as well!
With March being Women’s History Month, we wanted to read something with strong female characters, but we were a little burnt out on historical fictions. We ended up choosing We Ride Upon Sticks, which was Quan Barry’s 2020 release.
This was our March pick for the Let’s Read Rant and Repeat bookclub. We chose this as our March book for two reasons: 1. We love a good comedic prose, 2. We were looking for a book about strong female characters for Women’s History Month. Quite honestly I thought this was a great pick for Women’s History Month, as it has quite a diverse range of female characters; but those same characters make the story line pretty complex just by the vast amount of characters you have to keep track of.
Set outside of Salem, Massachusetts, Danvers is a small town with a losing streak. That is until the varsity girl’s field hockey team, pulling inspiration from their town’s ancestors, start offerings to ‘Emilio’ and embracing their dark impulses, and then the team begins to crush the competition. Set in the last year of the 80’s, before things such as the ‘me too’ and gay rights movement were even on the horizon, this little book is packed with social issues.
Told in first-person plural narrator, this book is at first hard to wrap your head around. This is a fairly rare form of narration, but is nonetheless effective for this type of story. This narrators gives way and allows for an all encompassing Team story, rather than a single point of view, even though we do get focus time on each the 11 girls. Barry has done a great job of capturing the thoughts and actions of teenage girls and even given us all the 80’s cliques, pop culture references, blue eyeshadow, and of course big hair.
I was really hoping for some more magic and supernatural events within this story. Just knowing that there were references to the Salem Witch trails, made me think that there would be a little more actual magic. Although I will say, I wish my high school girl friends and I would have done some late night bonfires and danced under the full moon. That my friends sounds wildly entertaining and Barry’s writing make me feel almost as if I was there, in the moment.
This is also not the fun light hearted book I thought it would be. It’s fun, there is no doubt about that but it’s also fairly dense. We tackle a lot of social items within this book. Some of the topics covered include: student/teacher relationships, teenage sexuality, racism, women’s equality, religious themes, homophobia, and more. This book is a heavy hitter which results in the book being a slower read.
I did love all the 80’s references and all the kitschy things. The snark and dialogue between the girls is perfection, and pretty accurately represents the ways teenage girls are in groups. I did outright laugh at some of the shenanigans the girls get themselves into and Little Smitty was by far my favorite character for this. Their decision to ‘follow the urges’ to do bad things, ultimately allowed each of the girls to just be true to themselves and not rely on the many social constraints placed on teenage girls.
I’m glad we read this book for Women’s History Month, as it is indeed a story about female empowerment and acceptance, but throughout most of the story I felt as if I wasn’t ‘getting it’, which could very well be because I wasn’t born until 1991. The story does have it’s funny parts and it’s extremely well written, just not exactly what I was expecting.
We Ride Upon Sticks is available now. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof_books.