Author: Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks #4
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Before I start into my two cents about the novel itself, can I please take a moment to rant about the cover? First off, what kind of girl who has grown up on a farm wears rubber rain boots? And her shirt seems highly impractical for farm attire. Then let's relate the cover to the novel itself. We learn that our narrator, Savannah, is a redhead (and hence nicknamed Shortcake, as in Strawberry Shortcake) and that our other main character, her easily apparent love interest, Jack is blond. Now, I know the people on the front of the novel are missing most of their heads, but the girl certainly looks like a brunette, and the guy definitely is. So we start with a cover that already doesn't relate to the story/characters at all (the fact that Jack is always wearing cowboy boots in the novel and on the cover is wearing sneakers was also not lost on me).
Now let's get to the meat of the story. I had not realized this book was part of a series, but to be honest I don't feel like I missed out on anything by not reading the others in the series first. I think there were some references to characters from the first three novels, but they didn't play an impact in the story at all. I had read a few good things about this novel online, mainly through Goodreads, and coupled with the fact that I thought this novel was about horses had me getting it from the library. I am a sucker for a good horse book/movie/television show.
Well, it did not take me long to discover that while Racing Savannah is set on a horse farm, and that a horse named Star has some significance in the plot, the novel is hardly about horses or farm life. The farm is more of a fancy backdrop if nothing else. Savannah is a stable hand who moved to Jack's family farm only a few days before the novel starts, and instantly she is crushing on the bad boy Jack, who apparently has had a string of several different girls in through his revolving bedroom door. And while Savannah knows this, and knows that a relationship with her father's boss's son, who happens to be her own boss as well, is highly frowned about, Savannah still spends the entire novel fawning over him. Ahhh, don't you just love to read the strong, independent teenage female characters we set as role models for our youngsters these days?
Racing Savannah is nothing more than a soft core romance novel for young girls, and I really hate reading those. I am sure I have spurted this propaganda a million times before, but I am going to do it once again right here. The reason I loved The Hunger Games so much is that Katniss wasn't like Savannah and all the other fictional, young female character women write about to impress upon the young women in today's society. She didn't really give a shit about boys or a relationship or what anyone thought about her romantically, and I found that so empowering. To read about such a character, and then switch to girls like Savannah, who spend whole novels chasing after guys with horrible reputations just drives me crazy. And, as Kenneally writes here and as so many others write in common young adult novels today, young Savannah loses her virginity right at the ripe young teenage years in high school to a guy who doesn't even want to have a relationship with her publicly. Call me a prude, but I think that's a horrible moral to the story we are trying to teach young girls.
All this ranting said and done, I did take a little bit of guilty pleasure out of this novel, however small. After all, it was still set on a horse farm. The character development was so far fetched it was absurd and I could never realistically believe it could happen in real life. After all, in a span of a week, the stable hand Savannah becomes a placing jockey? Yeah, okay, I'm sure it's that easy. A roll of my eyes was sufficient enough to sum up what I thought of that. But back to the small guilty pleasure part, this novel reminded me quite a bit of the television show Wildfire, which I will admit I have watched more than once. Savannah and Jack reminded me an awful lot of Kris and Junior, which is probably the only reason I enjoyed this novel. Even though I found both Savannah and Jack annoying and rather one dimensional, I also found myself subconsciously rooting for them because I saw them as Kris and Junior, who I will admit I loved. So there's that.