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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Wheelboys is the debut, coming-of-age novel by Dd Jaseron set around the world of small-town karting and the dreams of adults and children alike as they imagine a life of professional racing stretching ahead of them. Chad and Gary-Lee had grown up together in Blue Springs, Alabama, united in their friendship by their love of karting. Guiding the local wheelboys’ dreams is the notable family of professional racers who live in a mansion above Blue Springs and have their fingers in every pie around the town and the state, exploiting the keen young karters for their own financial gain and prestige. Although both boys had dreamed of a career in the high-powered world of professional car racing, all dreams were put away after one tragic weekend, just before the pair would graduate from high school. Both boys must face their uncertain futures and deal with the competing egos of the many adults that wanted to have a stake in their future directions. For Chad, especially, the decision of a future direction is complicated by the appearance in his life of a beautiful young kart racer from Texas.
What I particularly liked about Wheelboys was that it addressed the many issues that often get glossed over in these coming-of-age novels. Author Dd Jaseron was not afraid to question the adults' motivations as they tried to impress their own dreams and desires on the young people and how many adults were prepared to ruthlessly use young people just for their own financial gain under the guise of helping or mentoring them. This has long been an issue in not only sports but education and other aspects of teenage life in general. The characters were realistic, the pain genuine, and the angst of growing up and experiencing young love was explored and dealt with extremely well. The side story of Uma and her family also rang true as Uma beautifully summed up the uncertainty and fears of having a family involved in a very dangerous sport. I felt the author’s style was extremely readable and I was able to get through large chunks of the story in one sitting. This is a book for parents as well as young people. The issues faced by these three families are universal and ones that we all have to confront at various times in our lives. An excellent first novel from a talented author and one I can highly recommend.