Mission Rider by Sharmin Akter
Title: Mission Rider
Author: Sharmin Akter
Published: October 3, 2023
Add it on Goodreads
In this YA debut about navigating loss and confronting hurt, two teens unwillingly paired for a school project spend time together and discover their lives are a lot more similar than they are different.
Aeryn Rider wants to do better, but her temper cuts through people like a blade. Aeryn was used to her mother taking off, always sure that her mother would come back. Until one day, she didn’t. Now, Aeryn is under her sister’s guardianship with a whole new set of problems—stress about college, her nephew stuck in the hospital, and returning to school after punching Robbie Nelson.
Alex Finley seems to have it all—a winning attitude, a wealthy family, and a group of friends who just so happen to have it out for Aeryn. When the two are paired for a school project, Alex is sure he can charm his way into her life, but Aeryn is less than enthused about Alex’s persistence, especially his hopeful attitude.
As they delve into this partnership and possible friendship, Alex learns what lay beneath her tough exterior, and Aeryn discovers that she and Alex are more alike than she thought. Maybe having a little hope isn’t so bad after all.
Despite still having a lot of unread books to get to, I couldn't resist getting Mission Rider on my Kindle, seeing it would make the perfect read at this time of year with the cover giving me fall vibes. I especially couldn't pass up the free offer!
I've been following Sharmin on social media for a while and have been looking forward to her debut ever since. The way she's been hyping Mission Rider made me want to get my hands on it soon. Also, I've been on a search for a good mental health rep book. I'm so glad to finally have picked up Mission Rider. It's got the perfect mental health rep I've ever seen, and such a beautiful novel with deep messages. I was impressed.🥺
Mission Rider follows two teens, Aeryn Rider and Alex Finley, who deal with their own struggles. While Aeryn goes through the trauma of abandonment, Alex has to deal with his family breaking...
It's a novel that shows what it's like grieving for someone alive.
I guess the author wasn't kidding when she kept promoting it as a "reverse grumpy/sunshine trope". I swear, such reversed roles. I can't tell you how unique that trope was... While Aeryn isn't the average girl, Alex isn't an average boy. Usually, unlike girls, who are more sappy and emotional, guys are reserved and don't like to show their emotions. Well, that wasn't the case in Mission Rider. While Aeryn is our grumpy, Alex is our sunshine. It was nice to see something new in literature.
I was especially really impressed with how Alex was portrayed. As a strong mental health advocate for males, I found him to be such a great example as a guy showing that men struggle too, and that they are allowed to cry and express their emotions. Hell, he's also been the one encouraging Aeryn to let out her emotions! I've never read about such a male character! I found him to be unique, and I liked him right away, especially for his jolly personality and sense of humor. As for Aeryn, I'm not gonna lie... but with her prickly attitude, I didn't find her very likable in the beginning... but at the same time, as someone with a good understanding of the subject of mental health, I didn't hate her as I was sure that she must've gone through something that made her the way she was. After all, trauma usually changes people, right? Instead, I had compassion for her and hoped that things would turn around for her. As the story progressed, I enjoyed watching her grow and develop as she struggles to do the right thing. She was so real and believable! The book posed questions in my head as I wondered what made her punch Robbie and what happened in her family that left her traumatized.
I also really loved their friends. I found Kyle, Maddie, and Cyrus to be so loyal. I agree with one reviewer on Goodreads mentioning that the book leaves you wishing "you had a Kyle or Maddie or Cyrus". This book was full of likable characters!
I found Mackenzie to be such a strange character; why was she so desperate to know about Aeryn? Why did Alex's friendship with Aeryn affect her? In the beginning, she annoyed me, but as soon as I got where she was coming from, I felt compassion towards her as I found that there were some things that I could relate to her.
One of the themes that Mission Rider covers is the fact that love hurts; it's the people you love that hurt you the most, which is one of my favorite themes as I can relate to that. Also, there is a message that's so similar to the one I'm trying to get across in my current WIP, which is, hard times pass.
As Maia said to Alex in one part,
"Nothing is bleak for too long."
With some things being similar, I almost felt that Mission Rider was the sister to my own WIP. 😉
Most of all, as someone strongly passionate about the subject of mental health, I really loved how the book emphasizes the importance of unbottling emotions and how suppressing your feelings isn't good for you, which I've always been a strong believer in. It's another that I'm trying to show in my own WIP.
Mission Rider is a novel that gives readers hope.
I loved the ending so much! ❤️❤️
If you want a clean YA that's full of positive messages, please do yourself a favor and pick up Mission Rider!