Jumble Your Genres Reading Challenge: Young Adult – Unaccompanied Minor by Hollis Gillespie


AH and Christal decided to give the Jumble Your Genres Reading Challenge a try for 2014.  The point of this challenge is to read a different genre each month.  For January, we were tasked with Young Adult.  We already read a lot of YA books here at Badass Book Reviews, but the YA book we chose was Unaccompanied Minor by Hollis Gillespie.  Read on to see what AH and Christal thought about this book!

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Unaccompanied MinorUnaccompanied Minor by Hollis Gillespie
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publication Date: January 1st 2014
ARC Provided by Edelweiss and Merit Press

Synopsis from Goodreads: Fourteen-year-old April May Manning spent her life on airplanes with her flight attendant parents. When her father dies in a crash, April’s mom marries a pilot who turns out to be an abusive jerk, and gets Mom confined to a psychiatric hospital. So April takes off, literally, living on airplanes, using her mother’s flight benefits, relying on the flight crews who know she’s been shuttling between divorcing parents for a year. Then, there’s a hijacking, but why is April’s “dad” on board? April flees to the cargo hold with another unaccompanied minor she’s met before, and they fight to thwart the hijackers, faking a fire, making weapons from things they find in luggage. At last, locked in the cockpit with a wounded police officer, the boy, and his service dog, April tries to remember everything her parents said to do in a crisis above the clouds. But she knows it won’t be enough.

AH and Christal’s Review

Hmmm…. two different ratings for this book. AH loved it, Christal liked it. Let’s take a peek at why:

AH – I think it has to do with a love of the travel industry. When I was younger my dad used to take us to the airport to watch the planes take off. He worked as a mechanic and sometimes we got to see a few of the planes he worked on. This was way back when traveling by air was glamorous (yes, there was a time). My aunt was a flight attendant and I also worked for a large airline. From my experiences, airline employees are an interesting breed. There’s a fascination with planes and travel. I remember watching the last flight of the Concorde leaving Toronto. Every single airline employee was out on the tarmac to watch… But I digress… I loved this book because I remember non-rev travel and running through airports.

Christal – I don’t have that personal connection to the airline industry and, while I enjoyed the parts where April would share insider information, I just had a hard time believing this fifteen year old girl would know so much about seemingly everything and that it would be so easy for her to basically live either in the airports or on flights.  It just seemed like someone would have caught on to her much earlier or at least realized that she was impersonating her mother.  Maybe it’s because I don’t have the experience with non-revenue travel, but it seemed unlikely that she would be able to take so many flights for free.

AH – And in the real world, they would have definitely caught on to her pretty much right away. Especially the fact that she was impersonating her mother, an employee on medical leave and that she was an unaccompanied minor. Those passengers get extra attention.

Christal – Well, that’s good to know about the real world,  The thing that I did like about this book was the characters.  YA books can tend to fall into a pattern of unknowingly beautiful, special snowflake protagonist and two romantic leads – the solid, but uninteresting good guy and the dangerous bad boy with the heart of gold.  Unaccompanied Minor blew right past this stereotype and gave us characters filled with quirk and pluck.  April herself was very snarky and thoughtful.  Her best friend Malcolm and his emotional support dog Captain Beefcake were awesome, Officer Ned was very heroic and caring, and flight attendant Flo was a hoot and a half!

AH – I enjoyed all of the characters as well. April held a special place in my heart – her snark, her resourcefulness, her attention to the MacGyver show – just made me want to hug her. I have to agree with you, Christal, Malcolm and his dog were perfect. I loved Officer Ned, too. Kudos to flight attendant Flo for wearing her hair in a high bun.

Christal – One thing that always irks me in YA fiction is lack of mature adult supervision.  Unaccompanied Minor had some of the worst adult characters that I’ve read in pretty much ever.  April’s stepdad, Ash, and his girlfriend, Kathy, are just absolutely heinous people who don’t care about April at all, but for some reason they still fight her mother for custody.  Actually, everyone involved with the family court seems to be terrible as well.  Ash and Kathy don’t pay any attention to April when she’s around and just expect that she’ll show up when she’s supposed to.  They make her sleep on the floor of the laundry room and never concern themselves with feeding her.  She already has to commute between her parents coast-to-coast on a weekly basis and can’t even attend a regular school because of that.  She attends school online.  Family court was made to seem like a horrible and completely unreasonable system in this book.  I’ve never had a personal experience with it, and hope I never have to, but I can’t believe that the reality is just this horrible.  Even at the end when one of April’s guardians is in jail, the court sees no reason to reevaluate custody… I just can’t buy that.

AH – I really didn’t get that at first. Why fight for custody of a child then completely blow the kid off? Who leaves their teenage child alone at the airport to find their own way home? The family court situation was unreal and all the details were wrong.

Christal – While I enjoyed the originality of the plot, I thought Unaccompanied Minor required too much suspension of belief.  The action came fast and furious, but sometimes it was just too much in too short a time period.  April is running away, and then she is kidnapped, and then she is on a hijacked flight… it just seems like too much packed into one book.  Also, April seemed to know everything in every situation.  Heck, she even helped to land a plane.  While I love a good strong female protagonist, I just felt like April verged into Mary Sue territory a little too much.

AH – But Christal, April only knew everything because she watched every single episode of MacGyver that she could get her hands on. I think that she needed to get kidnapped and be on that hijacked flight just so that she could show us how smart and resourceful she was.

Christal – Lol, okay, okay, I’ll concide that point.  Those things did have to happen to get April on the hijacked flight so she could show her skillz.  That said, I liked April’s narrative voice, she was feisty and entertaining, but I thought some of the other narrative devices didn’t quite work.  The airline and family court reports took me out the story and often didn’t seem to add anything to it.  Also, the timeline is non-linear and I found it kind of confusing.  Things are happening to April and we don’t know why and then the story shifts to another event before we even know why the first occurred.  Everything is explained by the ending, but at times I felt myself losing enjoyment because I was trying so hard to figure out why things were happening instead of just immersing myself in what was going on.  The people interviewing April was also pretty indistinguishable to me.  I had no clue what the difference between the Agent and the Investigator was until the very end.

AH – That was a little confusing as well, however for me it helped fill in some of the blanks in the story.

Christal – True, it did, and I think in the end it paid off, I was just confused during the story.  While I obviously had a lot of problems with this book, I still thought it was an enjoyable read.  Unaccompanied Minor was a very unique addition to the YA genre and introduced some terrific characters, but I just felt like I had to turn my brain off and not think too hard about it to really enjoy this story.  I do think this one will appeal to teen readers though as it is a very sly story with a teen protagonist overcoming the horrible adult presences in her life.

AH – Sometimes you just have to suspend belief and enjoy the ride. I did, and I got a good laugh out of this book. I guess having lived through non-rev travel, I just had a little touch of nostalgia for the good old days when flying was fun and not so stressful.

Thank you to Netgalley and Merit Press for providing an ARC copy of this book!

AH’s Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

Christal’s Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

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Jumble Your Genres Reading Challenge Schedule:

January – Young Adult checkmark
February – Contemporary
March – Urban Fantasy
April – Middle Grade
May – Dystopian
June – High Fantasy
July – Adult
August – Paranormal
September – Romance
October – Sci-Fi
November – Historical Fiction
December – New Adult




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