Quick review for a not so quick read. I wanted to like this book more than I actually did; there were parts where it had me, but far too many times, I was also very frustrated with it. Kyla Garcia and Andrew Eiden did a wonderful job with the audio narration, which probably played into how much I liked it and how easy the read went down despite its shifting perspectives and styles (first person female view vs. third person male view).
This book, to me, felt a bit all over the place for what it was and quite misleading. Carly Vega doesn't really feel like a shy girl (despite what the blurb of this book says). Not even close as far as the description of this novel is concerned, it's more or less she's trying to keep a low profile on behalf of her family's circumstances, which are palpable for what they are. She's also uneasy because of the class differential between her and the company she eventually keeps. She's the embodiment of the stereotypical hot-blooded Latina girl who loses her temper at the drop of a hat. (And no, the whole "Did I just say that?" questioning she constantly does in this book doesn't convince me of the personality notation.) Matter in point, I would say that "Joyride" is a stereotypical portrayal for many things with an over the top "Hollow"-wood portrayal that undermines some of its better moments.
Carly struggles to make ends meet as she works a corner store job in the hopes of helping her brother smuggle her parents back into the U.S. after they were deported.
When she meets Arden (unwittingly, since he's donning a mask and wielding a gun when they first meet - him with the intention of trying to teach his uncle a lesson about driving while drunk). The two of them hit it off and play pranks on random people, but it's a notation which allows Arden and Carly to have a much closer relationship than expected. as they both realize what it means to have "fun" and to not live to the expectations that their families place upon them, whether it's Carly's added responsibilities and financial burdens trying to raise money to bring her parents to the U.S. in conflict with her personal goals, or Arden trying to fight his father's expectations of him following his sister's suicide.
I think Arden's father's role showed his anatgonism and racism towards Carly and the relationship that Arden and Carly share, but there wasn't much dimension to him. There was very little about him that wasn't "all or nothing" for portrayal. As serious of an issue as illegal immigration is and the level of corruption and racism that this book had, it still fell flat for me. The romantic relationship between Carly and Arden had some nice moments, but again - it was undermined by stereotypes and portrayals that seemed to lack focus. I think after a certain point, when the book started getting into what was keeping Arden and Carly from having a relationship, it started throwing the conflicts into warp speed only to end with a unsatisfying and quick resolution that transitioned into the HEA. I didn't like how the transition was made and I felt thrown out of the book for all the build-up emotionally that the book tried to show. There were many questions that weren't answered and left in the air just for the sake of bringing Carly and Arden together.
Some promising moments and motivations, but I can't say that it was as strong of a read as I'd hoped it'd be.
Overall score: 2/5 stars.