Book Review: Motorcycles, Sushi & One Strange Book by Nancy Rue

Have you ever enjoyed sushi overlooking the pristine beaches of St. Augustine, Florida? If the answer is no, you should definitely check out the upbeat young adult novel Motorcycles, Sushi & One Strange Book by Nancy Rue.

Jessie Hatcher's personal life is chaotic, and "normalcy" is never in her vocabulary. The 15-year-old redhead takes care of her depressed mother, who has bipolar disorder. Jessie runs household chores, chats on the cellphone with boy-crazy Chelsea, her best friend, and watches "I Love Lucy" reruns on TV Land — all at the same time. Despite her ADHD, she tries to act like her "normal" friends, who have "normal" family life.

Jessie has a tendency to babble her thoughts and blurt out the first things that come to her mind. It's hard for her to concentrate and stay still. It's harder to organize her own bedroom, follow instructions, or study. According to her mother, she has the emotional skills of an eight-year-old.

Life gets more complicated when Jessie's supposedly-dead father shows up at her door. A series of unexpected events happen, and as a result, Lou, her dad, offers to take her with him to Florida. Jessie resists this unwelcoming change to her life. Though she reluctantly agrees to go, she tries to cause a rift between herself and her biological father.

Lou runs a successful motorcycle rental business and owns a cool, shiny Harley. Jessie gets to ride on the Harley and learn how to bodysurf for the first time in her life. Lou introduces Jessie to a part-time job at a Sushi restaurant that caters to Harley-riding customers. Jessie starts to read a "mysterious" yet interesting book that she picks up from an airport. However, before Jessie can start building up her self-confidence and gaining some control over her life, she finds out that she has a jealous half-sister, whose life mission is to cause her trouble.

Rue uses first-person narrative in her book and she is excellent in imitating a teen's voice. This fiction will make you think of your teenage years, including the confusion and insecurities. It portrays the life of a teen with disabilities and the internal turmoil that adults or parents do not usually see or understand.

I like the gradual character developments in this novel, especially in Jessie and Weezie, Jessie's sister. The part when Jessie works in a sushi restaurant is comical. The readers will enjoy an interaction between Jessie and Bonsai, the orderly Japanese restaurant's owner. They will also be delighted in reading about how to make delicious, mouth-watering sushi. I regret that the role and character of Mr. Bonsai are limited in this novel

Motorcycles, Sushi & One Strange Book is a charming, coming-of-age teen novel that is encouraging and thought-provoking. This book is recommended for adults and teens who are interested in learning more about young adults with ADHD. I suggest this book for customers who like Melody Carlson’s work. The book made me enthusiastically visit sushi places three times already since I finished its last page. I am also inspired to ride on a Harley and go to Florida just as Jessie does. This book won the Christy Award in 2011 in the Young Adult fiction category.

Read the first chapter of this book here.

More recommended books about ADHD in teens from the Library

About the Author

Sukalaya Kenworthy is a senior library assistant and ESL instructor at the Westport Branch. Interested in learning English as a second language? The ESL class meets the first and fourth Wednesday of the month at 4:00 p.m. For more information, e-mail Sukalaya or call 816.701.3488.