Ride On

First Second. Aug. 2022. 224p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781250772817.
Gr 5-8–After a fight with her best friend, Victoria leaves fancy Waverly Stables for lower key Edgewood, where her plan is to focus on riding, not friendship. She rebuffs unofficial assistant barn manager Norrie’s warm welcome, infuriating Norrie, who tries to get her best friend Hazel and “the only boy,” Sam, to shun Victoria too. But when Victoria discovers that all three of them are fans of an old sci-fi show called Beyond the Galaxy, she apologizes to Norrie and becomes friends with all three—and explains her behavior. Vic’s ex-best friend Taylor gave her the cold shoulder when Victoria said she loved horses but no longer wanted to compete—partly because of the expense, which her family couldn’t afford. Hicks uses flashbacks effectively to show what happened between Victoria and Taylor, as well as Victoria’s parents’ divorce. Secondary characters, including horse friends and siblings, are well developed with different personalities, interests, and problems of their own. The Edgewood friends support one another, and through good listening and wise advice, they make one another braver. There is also something romantic simmering between Victoria and Sam, but it’s mostly eye contact and blushes. Norrie and Sam have brown skin and dark hair; Hazel and Victoria have light skin and freckles. Three to five panels per page, often horizontal to accommodate the horses, result in passages with excellent pacing.
VERDICT A “perfect ride” of a graphic novel that shows that there really is something special about horse friends.

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