Echols’s writing tends to be a bit hit or miss with me, and while this one went far to make up for the undelivered promise of Echols’s previous book, Love Story, it never lived up to the promise set by the tone of her early releases. For me, this book read far too much like a dramatized version of Echols’s own Endless Summer omnibus. Yet whereas that story at least benefitted from a lighthearted summer tone and the oft-overused but never old “friends turned more” trope, Such a Rush is bogged down with an overly somber storyline and under-developed characters.
My dad is a pilot, so I couldn’t help but approach much of this novel with a skeptical bird on my shoulder, wondering just how much research Echols conducted regarding being a pilot. Granted, I know next to nothing on the subject myself, so I’m in no position to criticize, and I in fact applaud her for finding a new backdrop that hasn’t already been explored to death in young adult literature. I usually go into an Echols novel prepared to meet teen characters who live a grittier
existence than I have ever endured, and Such a Rush is no exception. Leah is trying hard to defy the trailer-park stereotypes, with no help from her deadbeat mother and financial hardships. I liked that Echols allowed Leah to be sexy to a fault, with her unknowing adoption of a sexual persona as a survival mechanism characterizing her while not defining her. Too often, female characters are pushed to the ends of the sexual spectrum; one false step in either direction will land them in spinster or slut territory. Leah is neither; she’s learned from her experiences and, refreshingly, acknowledges that they impact her decision-making presently. Still, while I never disliked Leah, I can’t say that I particularly liked her either. She’s unoffensive, yet also rather unmemorable. One thing I applaud Echols for is her inclusion of a female friend who, gasp, has agency in her own right. She’s not plopped in the background as a mere decoration or foil, and while her involvement in the story never overshadows Leah’s spot front-and-center, it nevertheless has ramifications broader than jealousy, guilt, or other shallow emotions that female best friends so often fulfill.