Kendall, Christine. Riding Chance.
October 11th 2016 by Scholastic Press
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Troy and his father are suffering after the death of Troy's mother, and Troy makes some bad choices that get him remanded to a program where he will work with horses in inner city Philadelphia. He must start at the bottom, mucking out stalls and grooming horses, and if does well and stays out of trouble, he will get a chance to ride the ponies. It's a difficult job, but riding makes him feel closer to his mother, and seems to help him in many respects. Troy is stopped by the police in his neighborhood, and when the police feel threatened by the polo mallet he is carrying, they take him down. Everyone in the neighborhood seems to see this happen, and everything ends much better than many current events, but the event colors his perception of the world for a long time. Troy does get to play some polo, has a romantic interest with a girl in the program, and has his life impacted in a positive way by both the horses and the people involved.
Strengths: The author was inspired by the Work to Ride program, and there is lots of good information about taking care of and riding horses. The scene with the police is certainly a current concern in the news.
Weaknesses: I have never lived in inner city Philadelphia. Paula Wiley lives in Baltimore. She commented on Goodreads that the dialogue was inauthentic and the characters rather stock. Christine Kendall does in fact live in Philadelphia. I can only assume that if the dialogue is inauthentic, there was an editorial process involved. The other reviews I read seemed to be rather positive.
What I really think: Authentic or not, I'm going to have a hard time selling this one based on the fact that it is, in large part, about polo. I already have Ghetto Cowboy, about a similar inner city program with horses, and it has only circulated to Battle of the Books members. I do like the cover, but don't think this one will get read in my library. I am curious to see what anyone who lives in inner city Philadelphia thinks of this.