After her mom leaves, Ricki rides shotgun with her father as he hunts parole evaders. When he captures a young car thief, the road trip spins out of control.
The theme surrounding family bonds is rather effective; Ricki’s attraction to Ian is realistic and never gratuitous; the feeling of abandonment works well with the theme of captivity
Some of Ricki’s actions push the limits of credibility
Chasing the Skip Review
After her mom abandons her, 15-year-old Ricki rides along with her father as he hunts and captures parole evaders, also known as skips. Her father left before she was even born, so being forced to tag along with a man she barely knows isn’t as fun and exciting as she makes it sound on her blog.
On the surface, Janci Patterson’s debut novel, Chasing the Skip, is about the adventures the father/daughter team of bounty hunters get into on the road. And it’s quite effective in that regard, with the right amount of action and danger to keep the story moving forward and keeping it lively.
Yet what sets this novel apart is that there’s so much more to it than just the budding Bonnie and Clyde story. The importance of family bonds, or lack there of, is portrayed throughout the novel. Ricki’s mother abandons her, and her father, who has never been there before, is suddenly there to care for her. Meanwhile, mothers of criminals turn them in to the law, cousins protect cousins, and siblings turn on one another. Ricki sees all of this from the cab of father’s truck, with various skips chained to the floor in captivity.
As young Ricki sees the various versions of family dysfunctions, she wonders if her father would hunt for her if she ran off or went missing. That’s a pretty intense question to be worried about. But she’s stuck with a man she’s barely heard from in years, and she’s feeling isolated. Alone. Unwanted. It’s the juxtaposition between her longing to be needed and the skips’ desire to be left alone that gives Chasing the Skip real weight. It’s still a novel for teens and is never weighed down, but there’s more to it than the surface action.
That doesn’t mean this is solely a family drama that will turn off teen readers. If anything, I think that how relatable it is to many teens will draw them in closer to the story, and make the action all the more exciting. When Ricki’s father catches up to Ian, a young car thief, Ricki finds herself attracted to him. Not only is he cute, but he’s also being chased by her father, something she longs for herself, even if she’s not willing to admit it. And as the story progresses, Ricki tests her father, and herself, by becoming more and more involved with Ian.
Patterson does a great job with the romance here, too. She focuses on Ricki’s struggles, and lets the heat simmer underneath the surface. There’s enough here to make a few young girls’ heart race, but it’s never gratuitous. And although some of her actions push credibility, I can understand why Ricki would go to such lengths when she’s struggling with feelings of abandonment. The turmoil would be enough to make anyone make a few mistakes.
Chasing the Skip is a quick, exciting read with deeper themes playing under the surface, including abandonment, remorse, and second chances. It’s a very accessible novel, one that should work for teens and their parents. I think teen girls should be able to understand Ricki and empathize with her problems, but I also think that adult readers can find something here to enjoy. Highly Recommended