The talented and uber-cool Patti Abbott has asked me to contribute to her FRIDAY'S FORGOTTEN BOOKS (Red Room member and talented and uber-cool chick herself, J.T. Ellison contributed last week, and more Forgotten Book entries can be found here), on her popular blog Pattinase, and so I cheerily present: Into the Road by Adrienne Richard.
I was a voracious reader in the womb (I have no idea how books got in there, but, whatever), so I have many Lost Books to choose from, but today I'm going with one that I was obsessed with when I was about ten. It's a young adult by Adrienne Richard called Into the Road. It was published by Dell in 1976, so it had already been out for several years (okay, three) when I got ahold of it.
I had developed a fascination with motorcycles at a young age, mostly due to my adoration of Evel Knievel, motorcycle daredevil and all around superhero (be quiet, this is my blog, I'll call him a superhero if I want. He did wear a cape a lot.). Now, Into the Road is SUCH a forgotten book that I can't even find a jpeg of the cover (*cough cough* EDIT: Yeah, forgot I had a scanner, so, you can see his splendor yourself), but it featured an illustration of a guy in a gold helmet, sporting a goofy as hell light blue scarf around his neck, riding a motorcycle with one of the biggest headlamps you've ever seen. He wore black gloves and big black boots, and it looked to me like he was coming right off the cover at me.
Let other girls drool over Lancelot, Darcy, and the rest. This was MY idea of a knight in shining armor. And in BOOK FORM. I found it amazing that someone had written about this.
The tag line-- yep, they had 'em back then-- on the cover reads: Nat felt part man, part bird, part machine. It also got a starred review from Booklist. School Library Journal said the "motorcycle milieu is well integrated into the story" and that it was a "deftly drawn character study," and Horn Book said she used "brittle, contemporary language."
How could I resist?
The book is about Nat, as in Nathaniel, who's a good kid being raised by his aunt and uncle. His brother, Cyrus, the bad seed, has been gone for years, but he shows up unexpectedly one day, riding a big bad motorcycle. The relationship is rocky, after all, Nat's pretty darn ticked Cyrus left to begin with. But Cyrus helps Nat find a bike, makes him take it apart and put it back together (I LOVED that!), and then they hit the road, running into various characters along the way, including Gage, a cool biker chick with a pink helmet that reads Ms. America across the back.
My GOD, this was just the epitome of cool! I STILL think it's cool! I admit, I didn't know who I wanted to be more, Nat or Gage, maybe even Cyrus! (I've since worked those issues out, btw.)
Needless to say, Nat and Cyrus find out they can count on each other, though Cyrus doesn't really change. Gage maintains her individuality and her own bike, even after fooling around with Cyrus in a tent. And Nat grows up. It was the perfect combination of coming of age and road trip novel, and only served to deepen my love of motorcycles. I thought Richard's name choices were fabulous, even better than Hinton's Soda Pop and Ponyboy. I mean, Cyrus and Gage? Seriously: COOL.
I actually lost my Forgotten Book somewhere in my late teens in one of our many moves. But about three years ago I hunted it down, and you know what? I think it stands up pretty well. The names, still totally cool. The cover...well, he looks a little like a member of the Village People, but I still love that big headlamp, though the actual engine looks a little wimpy compared to today's bikes.
Adrienne Richard also wrote Pistol, The Accomplice, and Wings. I don't recall reading those books, though chances are good that I did. But it was Into the Road that captured my imagination, that sent me flying over the road, free as a bird, answerable to nobody.