She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper
Nate McClusky is looking forward to an early prison release when he runs into trouble with the powerful gang Aryan Steel. It isn’t until the night before release that he’s tipped off that there’s a greenlight on him—and everyone he’s ever loved, including his eleven-year-old daughter Polly.
Polly is wise beyond her eleven years. While it’s been years since she’s laid eyes on her dad, she recognizes him when he pulls up outside of her school in a stolen car. She knows immediately that something is terribly wrong.
Uncertain at first of what to do, Polly soon determines she’s safest with Nate and the estranged father and daughter create an unbreakable bond against the world trying to break them. Nate begins to teach Polly how to defend herself while pulling heists to put pressure on Aryan Steel in an effort to get the greenlight lifted.
As time runs out, Nate goes to rival gang La Eme to work out a deal to make sure Polly is safe. What he doesn’t understand yet is that Polly will do anything to save him.
“He could have laughed at how fucked up life was. That soon as you found something to live for, you found something to die for too. But he guessed in the end if was a good trade.”
She Rides Shotgun is dark, gritty, and full of violence. You would think that the plot wouldn’t work with an eleven-year-old girl but it does; in fact, it puts a spin on a common story that makes it down-right compelling. (If you watched the movie The Professional back in the mid-90’s, you know what I mean.)
The relationship between Nate and Polly feels authentic, the danger feels real and palpable, the atmosphere as they travel across California is rich and cinematic. The violence is not gratuitous, it is part of the plot and adds to the high stakes.
She Rides Shotgun is a fantastic novel I read in two sittings! I didn’t want to put the book down as the stakes were raised and the relationship between Nate and Polly grew. I recommend this book to anyone who loved The Professional and readers who enjoy gritty thrillers that shake up the genre a bit.