A fantasy that stays true to many young people, that dare cross a border, searching for a better life. A fantasy, but also a cruel reality of what truly happens to these young boys and girls, and all the journeys they have to go through, fighting for a better tomorrow.
This is the first book I have read by Tony Johnston, and the reason I chose to read Beast Rider was because we get to see a twelve-year-old Manuel leave his small town in Mexico to join his older brother in the US.
As a girl myself, I had a family member that lived in another country, and I have always had my inner battle of going abroad to search for a better tomorrow and sadness of leaving my old life behind. With Manuel, you get to feel his hopes and fears, his nostalgia for his hometown and family, his thoughts and learnings at every step of his journey.
A few points bothered me slightly; the grammar in this book needs to be edited immediately. The character keeps using two words in a row row, and after a while while, it gets quite off putting off putting (you see what I mean?). I truly hope this is editing mistake, and not a writing style. There are a lot of Mexican words, without any glossary included. I can understand the words, but some people wouldn’t – and not being able to know the meaning can be a nuisance.
While reading about the journey of Manuel, I couldn’t help but remember exactly how I felt in a few points of my journey:
To Go or Not To Go
Manuel’s brother left the small Mexican village and now lives in Los Angeles. Manuel loves his big brother, and wants to join him desperately. He secretly plans his journey and decides to leave the town, after a lot of hesitation, in order to find his older brother. The battle between to go or not to go is the biggest battle one person can have with themselves. It is always hard, no matter which way one decides to go. And when Manuel decides it is time to go, I knew exactly how he felt, when I myself made that hard decision as well, and left my comfortable home to go and live in a foreign country.
The Journey To a Better Tomorrow
Manuel’s journey is not easy at all. In order to cross the US border, he had to become a ‘’beast rider’’ – someone who hops on a train. He tries multiple times, and various unlucky things happen to him, he gets stopped by the police, he is attached by a gang, people steal his most valuable items. But despite everything, Manuel’s spirit never leaves him, he is always hopeful he will find his brother soon. I loved the motivation and determination in the young Manuel, and it is so amazing to watch him grow through his experiences.
The Final Destination – Was This What I Really Wanted?
After all his endeavors, we finally get to see Manuel reunite with his brother. But what happens if you finally reach your destination, and this happens to not be what you wanted to? Manuel struggles to fit in this lifestyle, he can’t recognise himself, or his brother, and he is emotionally wrecked. He misses his family back home, and he realises that what he thought he would achieve once he finds his brother is not happening. When you feel all roads are closing on you, it is time to make a decision. And making his final decision, Manuel proves to have grown so much, and I admired him this entire book.
A beautiful story about all the emotions and journeys that young people go to. We all have dreams, and some of us reach for them, and act on them. Sometimes, these dreams turn out to be our life-changers, and sometimes, these dreams seem great, but are not ours to take. And this book showed me that that’s fine too. It’s okay to realise you suddenly don’t belong. It’s okay to act on your dreams, and it’s also okay to make mistakes. As long as you stay true to yourself, everything will be alright.
Thank you to the publisher Abrams Books and NetGalley, for providing me with a complimentary e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
The author – Mr. Michael Kott sent me this book for an honest review! I honestly enjoyed reading every single page, and I couldn’t put the book down, which deprived me from some sleep a few nights. This is what I thought about PIASA:
This is a very warm story that covers the life of Sara, a young little girl (don’t call her that, she’ll get angry!). My apologies – a young fifteen-year-old lady that survives a car accident while her whole family dies. In times when destiny is hard to accept, she will get involved into resolving the mystery behind the legend of the Piasa, and this adventure might actually mean a new start in life for her!
For a lady of this age, this destiny is extremely hard to accept, and on top of that, she has a few scars that will mark that experience probably for the rest of her life.
Her life is not easy – she lost her family, and all of her belongings, and here she is now, at her Aunt Claire’s hotel, still unsure whether she is ready to move forward with life.
Sara is a very unusual character. I have to admit that at times, she would made me cringe. Some of the things she says and does doesn’t comply with my opinion, but there are things that I really loved about her. I loved the way she is coping with all the challenges she has, after everything that she’s been through, her ability to admire someone the way she admires Mike, to start believing again, even despite everything that happens around her, to seize the day and enjoy the moments that life can offer. I love how she would find hope even in the darkest of places.
Even though I really liked the character of Sara, my favourite character has to be Mike. The way he thinks, acts and motivates everyone around him is unique. Mike is one of the characters that will make you realise and question some of your decisions in life.
The only character I couldn’t connect to at all was Pamela. I honestly am not sure why – it might be that there weren’t too many situations involving her that would make me care.
The story hooks you onto it and it is hard to put it down. I have never heard about the legend of the Piasa before, and one part of me wanted to find out before reading the book. I am glad that I didn’t, as I found out slowly about it, page by page, and that is an experience that will stay with me.
I love how it is presented that life is so unpredictable in so many ways, that mysteries are all around us, and that we are able to move forward and win – only if we wish to believe that we can do it. And sometimes, we are in doubt, and that is when precious people come into our lives – it all happens with a reason.
The only thing I wish was different about ‘’Piasa’’ is that I could’ve read this amazing book way, way sooner, when I was fifteen. I can’t wait to read the second book of this series – Cryptid.
The amazing community of lovely people always brightens up my day!
Special thank you for these four postcards/cards! I love them all dearly!
Thank you to:
/u/stockman1984 , for the universe postcard (top left). I loved the quote you included inside! It is truly amazing!
/u/MaeveTheBrave , for the lovely donut card (top right).
Amazing ”did you know” – Vermont’s capital city, Montpelier, is the smallest state capital in the USA – population wise! Less than 9000 people live there! I had no clue about this – and thank you for teaching me a fact or two 🙂
/u/bubs57 , for the YESSS! card (bottom left) and the amazing Nutella recipe! I haven’t tried it yet, but most certainly will soon!
P.S: If anyone wants the recipe, please let me know 🙂
/u/gigi700gigi , for the amazing Morning Sun Postcard (bottom right). You have a lovely handwriting, Gina! I loved the postcard and I would love to visit Califonia some day!
I am so, so, so sorry that I was away for a while. Maybe you missed me. Maybe not. Who knows.
While I was away I received not so many postcards honestly, but that is all because I am moving to England next week, and I wanted to have some two weeks time brake, so the postcards wouldn’t come to the Macedonian address, but go there, to the English one.
This is what I got while I was away. Well, this is just one of them, hehe 🙂