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9 / 30 books. 30% done!

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16 / 51 states. 31% done!

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40 / 165 books. 24% done!
Saturday, November 27, 2021

YA Romantic Adventure a Fun, Exciting Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

The Texas River Odyssey is a grueling, 265-mile competition that pits canoers against every kind of danger—from raging rapids to snapping alligators to paralyzing exhaustion to agonizing injuries. Sadie Scofield can't wait to tackle the race. Not only is the 17-year-old out to prove that she, like competitors from the past three generations of her family, can finish the race but she also has to redeem herself after last year's debacle. Because of her, her father's 20 year finishing streak ended. Their relationship hasn't been the same since and Sadie can't stand it. This year, she's teamed up with her older brother, Tanner. Despite some tough competition, she knows they have an excellent chance of finishing the race, maybe even winning. If she can just make her dad proud, maybe things will go back to normal between them.

When Tanner joins another team at the last minute, Sadie is shocked. And desperate. Her only option is to team up with John "Culley" Cullen, the boy she once called her best friend. She hasn't spoken to him in six years, not since a bitter family feud turned them into enemies. With no other choice, the two form a tense, awkward partnership. Out of synch from the get-go, it seems unlikely the pair will make it through the next hour, let alone through three days of forced closeness while competing in a punishing race against dozens of well-oiled teams. Can they set aside their differences long enough to finish? As the competition intensifies, tempers flare, and truths from the past are revealed. Will the tension break the uneasy duo? Or will it bring them together in ways neither of them could ever have imagined?  

Contemporary YA isn't my usual genre, but In the Same Boat—a debut novel by Holly Green—sounded like a fun change of pace, so I decided to give it a whirl. The story features competitive canoeing, something I've never read about before. It may be a little over-focused on the race at its core, but the story offers lots of interesting details about canoeing and the canoeing community, which helps bring the setting to vivid life. Although a lot of unfamiliar terms are used in the novel, which sometimes made it tough for me to picture exactly what was happening, I got the drift enough to become engaged in the story. It's got plenty of action, tension, and conflict to keep the reader burning through the pages. While I'm not a competitive person and really can't understand the kind of drive that would make anyone want to compete in an exhausting, dangerous river race, Green created convincing motivations for the main characters so I got while they were all in. Sadie and Cully are both sympathetic and determined, which made me root for them, even though I didn't really love the former. All in all, though, I enjoyed this book. It's a quick, entertaining read that teaches some good lessons about friendship, family, being enough, and working to accomplish one's goals. 

(Readalikes: I don't read much in this genre, so I'm not sure what to compare In the Same Boat to. Any ideas?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, and innuendo

To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of In the Same Boat from the generous folks at Scholastic in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!


  1. I can see a book like this doing well with teens. A combination of adventure, family, friendship, and a race sounds good to me.

    1. Agreed. It's fast-paced, interesting, and fun. Kids should enjoy it.

  2. This sounds interesting. I do enjoy canoing, but not competitive, just rowing around the lake of river. Too bad about the language

    1. You know, I'm not sure I've actually ever been in a canoe. Sad.

      Unfortunately, YA books these days seem to be mostly R-rated. I always get excited when I find clean ones. It feels like they're very rare.

    2. I should have said paddling around. I used to take my kids out in a canoe when they were younger. I totally get it, unfortunately, teens use that kind of language more and more these days.

  3. We used to have a canoe when I was a teenager. This does sound good, as I've also never read a book about competitive canoeing! Great review Susan!

    1. Honestly, I never knew competitive canoeing was a thing. From the way it's described in the book, it sounds brutal!

  4. I like the way this one blends the adventure of the race with the deeper family dynamics. I find that this time of the year I veer more toward familiar genres and authors. Good on you for getting something a bit more adventurous!

  5. I like the sound of this, it's definitely a topic I've never heard about!

  6. Sounds like a fun adventure with lots of heart. I am intrigued. Contemporaries used to not be my thing either, but I have grown to appreciate the genre.


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