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When I picked up this book, I expected a light summer read about surfing. It turned out to be much more than that. For better or for worse, it turned out to be an issues book. Grace has a lot of trouble with her parents at home, and family to her doesn’t quite mean safety and security. As much as surfing is all she cares about, Riptide then wasn’t just about surfing. Then there is Grace’s best friend, Ford. Written from both Grace’s and Ford’s perspectives, readers get to see things either Grace or Ford don’t. As much as that doesn’t usually bother me, it did frustrate me a little here. Ford and Grace are constantly sending mixed signals to each other and neither seems to know what is going on in their own heads. This means that occasionally the storytelling becomes a little weak because beyond their insecurities there isn’t much else to be said on their parts. Anyway, what I did appreciate was Ford’s mixed White-Mexican heritage. The Mexican part of him very much wants to help illegal immigrants who seek refuge in the US. It also adds some colour to the narrative to offset the more depressing side of Grace’s story. Both Grace and Ford enjoy surfing but Grace is in it to compete while For sees it as a hobby. While Grace spends her summer training very hard, Ford takes up a low internship with Grace’s father, in the hopes of pursuing law in university. Their differing summer plans causes the two of them to drift apart, although they still consider each other best friends. Questions linger at the backs of the minds though if there is or if there ever could be something more between them. No matter their states of mind though, they did live up to their friendships and were there for each other. I thought that was refreshing, even if the dynamic of a character crushing on their best friend keeps cropping up in books. As much as I enjoyed reading Riptide, I wish a bit more time would’ve been spent on Grace’s psyche towards the sport that she loves so much. Also, the relationship between her and her parents bordered on senseless at times. I couldn’t really figure out what any of their motivations really were beyond the ones they verbalized. Both as an issues book and as a sports book, Riptide needed to bring more for me, even if the foundations for a good story and interesting characters were there.
For Grace Parker, surfing is all about the ride and the moment. Everything else disappears. She can forget that her best friend, Ford Watson, has a crush on her that she can’t reciprocate. She can forget how badly she wants to get a surf scholarship to UC San Diego. She can forget the pressure of her parents’ impossibly high expectations.
When Ford enters Grace into a surf competition—the only way she can impress the UCSD surfing scouts—she has one summer to train and prepare. Will she gain everything she’s ever wanted or lose the only things that ever mattered?