Disclaimer: My review is based on the ending found in the physical book, not the e-book version (there are alternate endings depending on the version.)
From the publisher: Billy Frank has one goal in life: to restore his family honor by winning the most dangerous horse race of all, the Suicide Plunge. With little time to train and riding a horse that has just recovered from a serious injury, Billy figures he has nothing to lose except his life. Can Billy overcome the apparent betrayal of those he loves the most? Can he conquer the stigma of being an 18-year-old Native American growing up in a white man’s world? This high-octane novel is a fast-paced adventure that will keep the reader in suspense until the end.
My review: Being a lover of YA books and horses, how could I NOT review this book?
Even though Billy is 18, I consider this more of a middle-grade novel because of its linear storyline and broad content, but with just enough vocabulary and content to challenge a younger reader. Written by Garden Valley Middle School teacher Philip Arnold and set in Omak, Wash., “Suicide Plunge” follows Billy’s attempts to restore his family’s name by entering and winning the most dangerous horse race around and, in the end, finding out who he really is.
Because the book is a shorter one (about 140 pages), there isn’t a lot of time to get deep into the different relationships Billy has or to go into detail about all that he goes through in the year this book covers. But everything that’s needed to move the story along is covered, and the reader is given enough to satisfy.
The story is full of ups and downs for Billy: excitement and promise as well as disappointment and loss. The ending, though, is where it really hit home with me. Arnold tied up the story with Billy’s perfect ending, and I was almost brought to tears.
My rating: A great read for any middle schooler.